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Commuters should stay off Alameda during Balloon Fiesta

Balloon Fiesta 2013 ParkingALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Warning to Albuquerque commuters: Starting Saturday, stay way from Alameda. Use Paseo del Norte, despite the massive Paseo/I-25 rebuild still underway.

During Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta, Paseo is your best bet for anyone traveling from northwest Albuquerque or Rio Rancho to Interstate 25, according to transportation offices.

That’s because Alameda – which many commuters now use – becomes a main entry for the tens of thousands of visitors trying to access Balloon Fiesta Park.

Long lines of traffic back up along Alameda, and most lanes of Alameda will run one-way into Balloon Fiesta Park before popular events, such as mass ascensions and Glowdeos.

Meanwhile, on Paseo, two eastbound lanes and two westbound lanes will remain open from I-25 to the railroad tracks during peak hours throughout the nine-day event, said Phil Gallegos, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

And by Friday – one day before Fiesta – workers are expected to finish the free-flow ramp that will allow drivers on eastbound Paseo to exit freely to southbound I-25, he said.

The new ramp “will really help, and allow Paseo to be a viable option for people trying to avoid Alameda,” Gallegos said.

On I-25, three northbound lanes and three southbound lanes will be open, he said.

For those driving to the Balloon Fiesta, however, Alameda and Tramway are the routes to take.

Jefferson north of Paseo will be closed to through traffic during Balloon Fiesta events, except for drivers with passes, Gallegos said. Northbound traffic on Jefferson approaching Paseo will be able to access both eastbound and westbound Paseo, he said.

Jefferson also will be a key access point for Balloon Fiesta Express Park & Ride buses.

Park & Ride service offers visitors a great way to avoid the crush of Balloon Fiesta traffic. Drivers can park their vehicles and hop on buses at any of five remote locations. They are: Hoffmantown Church, 8888 Harper Road NE; Cliff’s Amusement Park, 4800 Osuna NE; Coronado Mall, 6600 Menaul NE; Intel’s south parking lot, NM 528 at Westside NW; or Unser Crossing, southwest corner of Central and Unser SW.

You can buy Park & Ride and Balloon Fiesta tickets online at www.balloonfiesta.com.

Credit cards, but no cash, can be used for a bus ticket at the remote lots. All riders must have a ticket before boarding. For more information, call (505) 821-1000

Park & Ride service is not available on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

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