February 20, 2019

Water Authority contractors on Friday will begin required utility relocation work to make way for the City of Albuquerque's planned "roundabout" traffic circle at Rio Grande Boulevard and Candelaria Road.
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January 31, 2019

PNM has announced it will begin mobilizing construction for relocating some poles and transferring existing lines in the area of the Rio Grande/Candelaria Roundabout project on Monday, Feb. 4, 2019.

PNM expects this work to last three to four weeks, through late February or early March. Please note all construction is weather permitting and is subject to change without notice.

Also, the Water Authority is preparing to relocate some water lines that are in conflict with the project in the near future. We will keep you posted on that construction.

We do not yet have a start date for construction on the roundabout.
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January 4, 2019

We are experiencing a delay on the start of construction of the roundabout due to the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority's (ABCWUA) need to replace infrastructure in the area prior to construction. WUA is expecting to receive the bids for their project on January 15.

June 12, 2018

Here is a photo of the latest crash at the intersection at Rio Grande Blvd and Candelaria Road NW. Having worked on the 11-year-old roundabout project for six years now, I'm in the habit of being informed by constituents of every crash that occurs there.

The original Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program grant was awarded to the City under previous Councilor Debbie O'Malley and Mayor Chavez's administration. Without question the progress towards construction of the project has been excruciatingly and unacceptably slow, but not for lack of effort by me and city staff. I've struggled to keep North Valley residents accurately informed of its status, as it is reported to me.

It should be noted that under Albuquerque's form of municipal government, as your city councilor I can't just "build it already", manage the project or compel the administrative actions needed to move more rapidly. Despite my constant prodding, those are the responsibilities of the city's administration (executive branch) not the council (legislative branch). Also, without timely actions by four key entities (not counting the Feds) a Federal grant project cannot proceed: City Council, the regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the City Administration and the NM Department of Transportation (NMDOT).

Federally-funded projects must be placed on the regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) by votes of City Council and the regional MPO. After taking office in District 2 I've had to accomplish that twice after the project stalled under my predecessor Roxanna Meyers and deadlines passed. NMDOT is tasked by the Feds with administering the grant and must approve City's administrative milestones having to do with right-of-way acquisitions, utility relocations, final design, etc. NMDOT's process has been remarkably slow and difficult to work with, even for the City's capable project manager Debbie Bauman, who deserves a medal for her efforts.

By the conclusion of the term of Mayor Berry's administration, Ms. Bauman had accomplished all the necessary purchases of right-of-way. The final agreement for construction between City and NMDOT was left on Mayor Keller's desk for signature. It was signed in March of this year as another NMDOT deadline loomed - a major milestone. The NMDOT continues to move slowly with a few remaining approvals to allow us to put it out for bids.

Over the years, my office has several times reported the Administration's "estimated" schedules for bidding and construction, which as we know have not come to pass. Thus I am reluctant to suggest when construction will begin. However, we are now told that "this Fall the Water Authority will initiate a utility improvement project at the intersection, and following the completion of that project the roundabout will be put out to bid, with construction to projected begin in Spring of 2019." If you wish to complain about the slow pace of the project, I suggest you write Governor Martinez, State Transportation Secretary Tom Church, and your state legislators.

Isaac Benton
Albuquerque City Councilor, District 2
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May 2014

Dear Neighbors,
Over the last 18 months, I have carefully and respectfully considered the arguments for and against the roundabout.

There have been 13 accidents at the intersection of Rio Grande and Candelaria since data was collected for the updated intersection study (report dated July 2013). Two accidents since December of 2013 resulted in multiple injuries. Contributing factors were disregard for the traffic signal in three of the accidents, improper turns in four other accidents, and speeding in one accident. These factors are issues that can be mitigated by a roundabout, which is a nationally-recognized proven crash safety countermeasure. The 2013 study recommended a protected-permissive left turn signal for cost savings; however, when disregard for signals and improper turns are contributing factors, this is not an effective countermeasure.

The 2013 study acknowledged that a roundabout would provide superior crash reduction benefits and recommended that the intersection continue to be monitored and a roundabout not be ruled out. After receiving that study, the City Council voted 7-2 against canceling the project. Subsequently, the City re-applied for federal Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funding. The Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTB) at the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) voted to award increased federal HSIP funds for the project.

It was clear to the Council that this intersection will benefit from the significant improvements a roundabout can provide. No new local funds are required for the project. After objective consideration, I decided to proceed with completion of the roundabout. City Council then unanimously voted to reaffirm that the roundabout at Rio Grande and Candelaria is a City project.

As a separate but related demonstration project and with some State capital funding, I have requested that the City proceed with design of a lane reduction restriping of Rio Grande Boulevard to a three-lane configuration (one lane in each direction with a center turn lane) from Candelaria to Griegos, where it already becomes a 2-lane facility. Data will be collected before and after the restriping in order to help gage its effectiveness. For more information about this test project, visit my Council website project page.


Isaac Benton
City Councilor, District 2
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