Work ahead on NM 14, Paseo, La Bajada, Southern, MLK - Albuquerque Journal

Work ahead on NM 14, Paseo, La Bajada, Southern, MLK

It’s summer, and that means our road crews are working overtime to take advantage of temperatures that allow asphalt and concrete to cure and striping paint and tape to dry and adhere. Here’s a speed-round update on some of the projects readers have been asking about:


Paul Schmolke shares “N.M. 14, that’s been getting upgraded now for several years, appears to be 99% finished with fresh pavement and striping from the Sandia Crest turnoff to the Santa Fe County line. The remaining 1% is the small area at the Frost Road/Crest Road intersection with 14. I’m sure there’s a good reason for the omission, but I haven’t heard it.

“Excepting that tiny bit,” Paul emails, “14 is essentially fresh from Interstate 40 to Santa Fe County, and it’s a nice smooth drive with crisp visible striping. With very light traffic on the Fourth, I had a relaxing drive down and back with a good lunch in the middle.”

First, Paul had Golden Pride on Central, a perennial favorite. Second, a roundabout is coming.

Kimberly Gallegos, spokeswoman for the N.M. Department of Transportation’s Albuquerque-area office (District 3), explains “the reason this portion was not completed with the most recent project is because a new project is scheduled to begin on NM 14/Frost Road intersection in 2023 or early 2024. There will be a new roundabout at this intersection, and that’s where the work on NM 14 will wrap up.” adds the work will include construction of a roundabout at NM 14/NM 536/Frost Road, green stormwater infrastructure, addition of multi-modal facilities and continuous traffic flow.

PASEO AND UNSER WIDENING TO 4 LANES: Jay Hodge emails “well, we’ve been waiting for years, yet still no sign of progress in upgrading the Paseo del Norte/Unser area from two to four lanes. Traffic is backed up for a mile or more on westbound Paseo and northbound Unser for multiple hours every day. … Can you please find out … when we can expect to see four lanes?”

Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis shares he just got the last piece of needed funding when the City Council unanimously appropriated $100 million in gross-receipts tax revenue for new projects, including $15 million for Paseo/Unser widening. “Combined with other city, state, and federal funds the addition of the $15,000,000 will allow the city to expand to four lanes on the segment of Paseo del Norte from where it crests the top of the escarpment to Unser Boulevard and the part of Unser Boulevard from Paseo del Norte to Paradise Boulevard,” Lewis says in a news release. “This project will go a long way to removing a major traffic choke point.”

The work – which will include four lanes, a median, storm drainage and a multi-use pedestrian and bike trail – is in design, with acquisition of right-of-way beginning this year.

LA BAJADA BEING REBUILT: Work began last week to get the big hill ready for repaving. Jim Murray of NMDOT’s Santa Fe-area office (District 5) shares that during the first three weeks, drivers can expect lane closures and delays as crews construct detour paving outside of normal commuting hours.

First, southbound traffic will be placed parallel with northbound traffic. Once the southbound lanes are rebuilt, “traffic will be shifted over to the new southbound lanes. The northbound lanes will be reconstructed the same way as the southbound lanes to include Intelligent Transportation Systems infrastructure,” soil mixing to stabilize the roadway, load transfer platforms, drainage improvements and slope mitigation.

The project is scheduled to be completed in November 2024.

SOUTHERN WIDENING NOT DONE: Dan Klein asks if Rio Rancho is “going to continue the Southern widening project from Golf Course to Unser? Or were they only going to do 528 to Golf Course?”

Which looks amazing, by the way.

Deputy City Manager Peter Wells says Southern Boulevard Phase 2, from Golf Course Road to just beyond Unser Boulevard, “is currently under design. Final design plans are expected by the end of the summer.” Then right-of-way acquisition is scheduled from fall 2022 to fall 2023, and when that is complete, “a construction start date will be subject to available funding. The project is currently estimated to cost more than $35 million.”

NO MORE EXIT FROM NB I-25 TO MLK: Gallegos also shares that starting at 8 p.m. Aug. 8, NMDOT and its contractor “will be modifying the shoulder of northbound I-25 between Central Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard to remove the northbound MLK off-ramp.”

Northbound I-25 will be reduced to two lanes until Aug. 29, and northbound traffic will access MLK by exiting at the Lead/Coal off-ramp and proceeding north on Oak Street to MLK, the permanent configuration. MLK access for southbound traffic on I-25 is not affected.

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.


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