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City kicks off Central/Unser road improvement project


Construction begins this week on a 14-month, $5.3 million project designed to alleviate traffic congestion at Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard. (Steve Knight/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — City officials dug some dirt on Wednesday signalling the start of a 14-month project designed to alleviate traffic congestion at Central Avenue and Unser Boulevard on the city’s West Side.

The $5.3 million project will include additional traffic lanes, turning lanes, bike lanes and multiuse trails as well as improving Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and pedestrian access.

Mayor Tim Keller said the project’s goal is to develop an intersection that will work well for businesses, pedestrians and commuters.

“This is the core of West Side rejuvenation and revitalization,” Keller said during the short ground breaking ceremony. “It’s this intersection right here.”

Once the roadwork is completed, construction will begin on a mixed-use housing development that Keller said is going to be “the kind of place-making investment that is about affordable housing.” He also said the Central/Unser project and future area development will create a corridor that will serve as a hub for the West Side.

City Councilor Ken Sanchez

The project has been many years in the making, area City Councilor Ken Sanchez said, as the issue of traffic congestion goes back at least a decade.

“There are 70,000 vehicles that travel through this intersection daily,” Sanchez said. “If you come here between the hours of 6:30 and 8 in the morning, it’s horrendous traffic. We wanted to make sure that we could keep this area safe and at the same time keep this area safe for pedestrians.”

The intersection is home to the Patrick J. Baca Library, which opened in 2015, and the Central and Unser Transit Center.

Motorists are urged to drive with caution in the area and stay alert to moving equipment and workers near lanes of travel during the project.