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Roundabout work on Rio Grande in preliminary stage

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE ROUNDABOUT? Wally S. emails he’s seen “signage stating a full road closure at Rio Grande and Candelaria would occur (last Friday). Can you look into if this is a one-day closure or we’ll be seeing this for awhile? The automated signage was not very clear.

“For years during public meetings, they were very adamant about no full closures occurring during the construction of this controversial roundabout. Now they are changing their tune, and this will frustrate those who wanted it and those who didn’t.

“Do you know the official cost and breakdown? And why this is happening? I live in the area and it’s 70 to 80 percent opposed, just from word of mouth. … As a resident of the area, I haven’t seen any roundabout signs or anything in the mail giving us a heads up. This is just dreadful. It’s happening really soon and none of my neighbors are prepared.”

Buckle up, Wally and neighbors. The next three months are just the preliminary project work.

UTILITY WORK: Patti Watson of CWA Strategies, which is handling updates on the project, says, “Before construction on the roundabout can begin, major utilities have to be relocated. PNM began relocating its lines on Feb. 4 and were mostly finished by Feb. 15.

“The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority has to relocate three water lines, including a 24-inch transmission line, and replace some valves,” she adds. “This is a major undertaking that, in itself, will last 10-12 weeks and may require the entire intersection to be closed for safety. For now, we are closing most of the intersection. The Water Authority’s lines in this intersection are fairly old, 1950s, and may have required replacement during the next several years anyway. To maximize efficiency, Comcast and Century Link will be relocating their lines at the same time as the Water Authority.”

A news release from CWA says crews will be working 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday but could add more hours or Saturdays, as needed. It adds, “The contractor plans to finish work requiring a total closure of the Rio Grande/Candelaria intersection in about six weeks, by April 5. Work after that will require partial closures of the intersection.”

And it adds, “Anyone affected by planned water outages will be notified in advance.”

ROAD CLOSURES: Specific restrictions for drivers include:

• Traffic heading west on Candelaria will have to turn left and head south on Rio Grande.

• Traffic heading east on Candelaria will hit a dead end at Rio Grande. Drivers will not be able to head north or south on Rio Grande or continue east on Candelaria.

• Traffic heading north on Rio Grande will have to turn right and head east on Candelaria.

• Traffic heading south on Rio Grande will hit a dead end at Candelaria. Drivers will not be able to head east or west on Candelaria or continue south on Rio Grande.

The designated detours will be 12th Street and Griegos Road to the north, and Oro Vista and Glenwood to the south.

SAFETY REASONS: As to “why this is happening,” Watson provided the why on the closure. The why on the roundabout, according to City Councilor Isaac Benton, is a 2013 report on the intersection and the number of crashes since then that could have been prevented by a roundabout.

THE COST: As for cost, Watson says, “per their franchise agreements with the city, the utilities involved must pay the costs of relocating their lines. The estimated construction cost of the roundabout is $1,912,510.80. The majority of the cost is being paid for by federal funds, but there is also some local funding.”

According to the project website, rgc-roundabout.com, it’s “the only project in New Mexico to receive full Federal Safety funding: $1,150,000 – $1 million for construction, $150,000 for design.”

And while a construction schedule has not been released yet, Watson says, “Anyone who wants to sign up for regular construction updates during the utility relocation or during roundabout construction can visit the project website.”

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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