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Answers to more questions about the PDN/I-25 interchange project

PASSING MORE INFO ON ABOUT PASEO: As the $93 million, 14-month interchange rebuild project enters its second month, reader questions continue to roll in.

WHY CLOSURES BUT NO CREWS? Chuck asks why the northbound frontage road, as well as the exit ramp from Interstate 25, have lanes closed, especially during the afternoon rush hour, while no visible work is taking place and crews are in fact on the opposite side of the freeway.

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3 office, explains “the lane drops are necessary so that the contractor can design and build the triple-right turn that will permanently increase the capacity of drivers to head east on Paseo del Norte from I-25.

“The barricades are in place to protect the traveling public from pavement drop offs and give work crews protection regardless of the time work is being performed,” he says. “The contractor has started removing the existing curb and gutter along the I-25 northbound PDN off-ramp; therefore there is some activity going on now, and it will continue. Expect to see the continued efforts of the demolition of existing lanes followed by the construction of the proposed triple right.”

DO THEY WORK AT NIGHT OR ON WEEKENDS? Another reader wants to know if crews are working at the times fewer drivers are driving – nights and weekends – as they did during the Big I reconstruction. The point being, again, why are lanes closed overnight if there’s no work being done?

Gallegos says “concrete wall barriers are used for the lane drops in this area because of the type of work being done – concrete demolition, paving, etc. The work is constant, and the barriers will remain in place as positive protection throughout this part of the project.”

He adds that “there is night work going on which includes clearing and grubbing (tree and vegetation removal) adjacent to I-25 northbound from San Mateo to San Antonio, along with wall-barrier placement along I-25 southbound from north of PDN to San Antonio. Again, the work will become much more visible in the upcoming days.”

WHAT ABOUT THAT MORATORIUM? After last week’s column listed the surrounding streets that were off-limits to everything but emergency construction during the Paseo/I-25 rebuild, Donn asks why there are barriers on Jefferson near Alameda.

Gallegos says “the orange barrels, which are on southbound Jefferson north of Paseo del Norte, are part of the Paseo del Norte/I-25 Interchange Reconstruction Project. They are in place for construction of a drainage facility for the Project at Domingo Baca Arroyo and area improvements.”

AND THOSE SURROUNDING SIGNALS? Vicky McMath emails “one thing that could possibly help with the afternoon westbound traffic is if the signals down Paseo – San Pedro, east Pan American, west Pan American and Jefferson – could be better timed. It would also help if people wouldn’t block the intersections when they have a red light. It is very frustrating to not be able to go on my green light because people who have a red light have blocked the intersection.”

Gallegos says “the traffic signals on Paseo del Norte have been adjusted for the first phase of construction and are being monitored by Lee Engineering, a member of the design-build team for the project.”

Lee has adjusted signals at the northbound and southbound I-25 frontage roads at Paseo, at Paseo and Jefferson, Paseo and San Pedro, Holly and San Pedro, and at Palomas and San Pedro, he says. In addition, the company “is evaluating current traffic flows during morning and afternoon peak commute periods, and will alter the signals based on the flows and traffic impacts as needed.”

Vicky adds that, although last week’s column said “there wasn’t construction on Second … when I was there on Saturday the left lanes both north- and southbound were blocked for construction on the medians, it looked like. That’s crazy to be doing that when people might be trying to use Second as an alternate route.”

That was a long-delayed three-day county road maintenance project and, as the column explained, was scheduled to be off-peak and on the weekend to minimize its effect on regular commuter traffic.

PASEO PANHANDLING ISN’T SAFE: Finally, a reader says the heavy congestion at the interchange makes panhandling even more dangerous for those on foot and those in vehicles.

Gallegos says “we will speak with the Albuquerque Police Department and see what can be done about panhandlers in the construction zone.”

Assistant editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays and West Siders and Rio Ranchoans on Saturdays. Reach her at 823-3858; road@abqjournal.com; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, N.M. 87103; or go to ABQjournal.com/traffic to read previous columns and join in the conversation.

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