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Waiting for concrete to cure on I-40 is like watching paint dry

WHAT IS THE CONSTRUCTION BACKUP ON I-40? Zeeandjohn asks via email, “What sort of ‘road work’ is being done on Interstate 40, and when is it going to be finished? It has been months, and little is being done. For instance, (on a recent Friday) traffic started backing up at Coors, barrels started at the east end of the bridge and no one was doing anything until near Fourth where one or two people seemed to be making desultory efforts at something. This was in the last couple hundred yards of the ‘work’. The ‘work’ seems to be either unnecessary, under the auspices of incompetents, or both.”

Kimberly Gallegos, spokeswoman for NMDOT District 3, explains, “The concrete repair work being done on I-40 is taking place in segments. The frustration that drivers experience is understandable, but the reason they will see the work zone blocked off and sometimes no one currently performing work is due to the concrete that is curing. It takes several hours for the concrete to cure, and because of this, no traffic is allowed to pass over it during this time. Lots of overnight work has taken place in order to not inconvenience drivers; however, some daytime work is necessary.”

According to NMDOT’s project website, the “expected completion date: Summer 2019.”

MORE ON THAT UNFUNDED ROUNDABOUT: After a recent column item on there being no funding for a proposed roundabout at Rio Grande and Mountain, a reader emails: “(City) Councilor (Isaac) Benton (was) promoting this ridiculous idea yet again at the Land Use meeting (Aug. 15). How many times is he going to close down Rio Grande – remember ART closures – before completely killing Old Town businesses?”

And she adds, “The city wants to build the traffic circle sooner or later, whenever the money becomes available. I felt the original answer was a misdirection and did not address the concerns of those of us who oppose the project.”

Diane Dolan, policy analyst for Benton, explains, “There is currently no funding to pursue a roundabout at Rio Grande and Mountain, which was the ‘preferred’ of two options for the intersection studied in the Rio Grande Complete Street Concept Plan. Councilor Benton did get $750K in the 2017 GO bonds for implementation of a few of the other segments:

• Cross section Aspen to Mountain phase 1

• Bellamah Ave. intersection

• Pueblo Bonito median

• Hollywood pedestrian crossing

• Striping between Central and Alhambra

“The plan estimates the cost of the roundabout at $2.69 million; no funding sources have been identified yet for design. Nothing Councilor Benton (has said) conflicts with this; there is still no funding for the roundabout at this time. The bill he has introduced simply adopts this plan as policy. Funding would still have to be secured before design can even begin.”

LOST IN THE U.S. 550 CONSTRUCTION: Reader georgekey1955 emails, “There need to be signs saying ‘Business Access’ on 550 for the businesses that (are) in the road-construction zone. After three attempts to cross … to an IHOP on the north side, we were finally able to do so. It’s dangerous for all as there are many large trucks and pieces of heavy equipment working at the same time. Some help is needed for both the customers and the businesses. Hope you can get someone’s attention on this matter, IHOP has tried with no success.”

Gallegos says, “I checked with the project manager, and she informed me that there are signs for restaurants and even for IHOP. So I am not sure if they just did not see it or if it had blown over.”

BUMPING ONTO PASEO DEL NORTE: Finally, a reader emails, “When is the DOT going to address the horrendous transition between the asphalt and concrete at the Wyoming and San Pedro intersections on PdN?”

Gallegos says the need is on the state’s radar. She adds, “We have special equipment coming in to help smooth the transitions in this area! Work is being scheduled in the very near future!”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103.

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