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ABQ, get ready for Round 2 of roundabout

HERE WE GO ‘ROUND AGAIN: Construction recently wrapped up on the nearly $2 million roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria.

It just started on another one at 12th and Menaul.

And residents like Wally are frustrated with living with and driving through a construction zone. You can hear the exasperation in his email: “We get one two-week break from two major projects that truly hinder and limit traffic for the area.” He asks if there was a study done to justify the new roundabout, why the city is reducing road capacity when there’s development in the area, who’s paying to acquire right of way, why weren’t residents notified, why are we going to the trouble and expense of also redoing the water lines, and what are the alternate routes around the construction?

For answers we turn to Diane Dolan, policy analyst for City Councilor Isaac Benton, whose District 2 is home to both roundabouts, and David Morris, communications director for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority.

THE ROUNDABOUT: “A study was first completed for the entire area in 2005, prior to Councilor Benton representing the area,” Dolan says. “The study made recommendations for land use and building forms related to the development of the Indian Pueblos Marketing Inc. property, public spaces and streetscape, and transportation and transit. It took into consideration the additional traffic demands that will occur with the build-out on the IPMI property.” She adds that implementation of the study recommendations have been phased in, with Phase 1 the roundabout at Menaul and Indian School, Phase 2 the 12th Street improvements and Phase 3 at the intersection of 12th and Menaul. Phase 3 “has been developed in cooperation with the neighborhoods and the IPMI to improve walkability and took into consideration the master plan for the IPMI property and additional traffic that will generate. Project models showed that this additional volume could be accommodated with the new street design.”

As for right of way needed to accommodate the roundabout, Wally asks, “Who’s footing the bill for the land they’re buying up at the car wash and mechanic shop?”

Dolan explains: “The project budget included the cost of acquisition of right-of-way. The project is funded with GO bonds as well as Transportation Tax funds.”

THE WATER LINE WORK: Regarding notice of the five months of utility work that will precede roundabout construction, Morris says, “We held a public meeting on Sept. 5 to start getting the word out to the neighborhood.”

The Near North Valley Neighborhood Association hosted a meeting on the project Oct. 8. Dolan says the utility work, which began Sept. 30, is replacing “water lines (that) are more than 50 years old and experience frequent main breaks” so taxpayers won’t have to fund “tearing up the roadway after it was just re-built.”

The timing of the water line project – just before Balloon Fiesta – was in part because the water authority “held off starting until the Rio Grande/Candelaria roundabout was complete,” according to Morris, and in part because the length of the project means it will be going on during a fiesta, be it this year or next, according to Dolan.

Crews are now installing a new 6-inch water line on Woodland. A news release from the water authority says, “During this construction, Woodland will be closed to thru traffic with LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY allowed between 12th Street and 10th Street. Access will be maintained to all residences. The contractor will coordinate with homeowners if driveways need to be blocked for a short time. Residents will be notified in advance of any planned water shutoffs.”

This leg of the project is scheduled to last through mid- to late-November.

To receive email updates on the project, contact Patti Watson, 245-3134, pattiw@cwastrategic.com; Cristofer Romero, 245-3138, cristoferr@cwastrategic.com; or Rachel Stone, 289-3071; rstone@abcwua.org.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.

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