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Paseo project change isn’t going to cause backup problems

WHY THAT PASEO LOOP WON’T BE MISSED: A reader with an engineering background has some serious concerns with recent changes to the Interstate 25/Paseo del Norte interchange rebuild.

Specifically, the switch for eastbound-to-northbound traffic.

Our reader questions why “the flyover … is to be cancelled and replaced by signal lights. … The idea is to save costs, but the cost saving will come at a huge opportunity cost as it undermines the whole purpose of expediting traffic flow. The traffic light to be placed in the path of eastbound Paseo traffic wanting to turn north will of necessity hold up the flow of westbound Paseo traffic. If it also stops northbound I-25 traffic wanting to turn west, we are literally back to square one, with $75 million spent to accomplish nothing.”

Phil Gallegos, who handles information for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, says “it was a loop ramp and not a flyover that was removed from the design, and the traffic signal is not a replacement; it already exists.”


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And he explains that while east-to-north traffic will have a signal, “almost all of the northbound-to-westbound traffic will be on (its own) flyover and not be impacted by the signal your reader mentions. The only northbound-to-westbound traffic that will not be on the flyover and be impacted by the traffic signal will be the traffic that needs to access Jefferson. The eastbound Paseo del Norte to northbound I-25 movement is a much smaller percentage of the daily traffic.”

And Sally Reeves, the NMDOT project engineer responsible for managing the Paseo contract, says “that (east-to-north) movement is minimal compared to the northbound I-25 to westbound Paseo del Norte movement. In addition, the eastbound Paseo del Norte to northbound I-25 traffic movement will now have two dedicated turning lanes available, with three through lanes and, based on the models, this combination will not disrupt the westbound Paseo through traffic.”

And while our reader is calling the change “a curve ball, or sneak play, or bait-and-switch, choose your metaphor,” Paseo is a design-build project that by definition has the flexibility to allow the design to change as building needs dictate.

Gallegos explains that “the original design was more intense, and the cost was over $300 million. The design was modified to better fit the available funding and still satisfy critical traffic movements. This scaled-down version of the project was what was presented and approved by the voters.” And Reeves adds “the selected contractor’s proposal meets all of the performance requirements of the contract and the 30 percent conceptual design that was bid.”

TELL THE PLANNERS WHAT COMMUTERS NEED: It’s your chance to play 21 questions with the transportation planners.

Julie Luna, Transportation Planner with the Mid-Region Council of Governments, is encouraging Metro-area commuters to log into the agency’s questionnaire and weigh in on what’s needed for the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, better known as Futures 2040.

Luna says “an essential part of the plan is learning what people think of transportation today and how it should serve us in the future.” The questions, at, take around 12 minutes.

And they cover everything from if the current system of roads, buses, trains, sidewalks, trails and bike lanes is meeting your needs, to what issues you face when using each of those modes of transportation, to how much congestion affects your commute, to how you get your traffic information.


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Log in by Dec. 13 and let your concerns be heard.

SEPT./OCT. ROAD FATALITIES: Fifty-seven people died on New Mexico roads in these two months; 31 in September and 26 in October, according to the NMDOT and the University of New Mexico.

In September, 22 of the deaths were in vehicles, four were on motorcycles and five were pedestrians. Alcohol was a factor in 10 of the deaths.

In October, 20 of the deaths were in vehicles, and three each were on motorcycles or on foot. Alcohol was a factor in four of the deaths.

Since the start of the year, just 52 of the 169 people killed in vehicles were wearing a seat belt, and three of the 38 people killed on motorcycles were wearing a helmet.

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;; P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103; or go to to read previous columns and join in the conversation.