Rio Rancho road construction project in final planning stages

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – A long-awaited, major road project is reaching its final planning stages after years of discussion.

“For the three years that I’ve been in office, this has been the number one question: When will Southern Boulevard be repaired? When will it be restored?” said Rio Rancho Mayor Greggory D. Hull.

The City of Rio Rancho told residents at a public meeting on Wednesday night that it is hoping Southern Boulevard construction will start early next year.

The latest design was on display at the meeting, showing a four-lane divided roadway, which will include new sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

Project Manager Kelly Heath said most crashes now are rear-end collisions as drivers slow to turn off Southern.

To address that, Heath said the reconstruction will limit turning points on some of the smaller cross streets and include raised medians with left turn lanes.

That is supposed to reduce crashes and delays.

Phase one of the project will stretch from Golf Course Road to New Mexico 528.

Most people at the meeting Wednesday agree that the road needs it.

“It’s very unattractive, so I’m looking forward to it,” said Patricia Gyllenswan.

Gyllenswan said she works at a beauty salon on Southern Boulevard and is nervous about the impact during construction.

“I want to stay in business. My husband just got laid off, so it’s a concern. It’s a financial concern. People don’t like the hassle of the traffic,” she said.

In fact, she and others alluded to not wanting it to be like Rapid Transit construction in Albuquerque.

“Not to make it like the other project in our sister city,” said Karen Fitzpatrick, owner of Harris Jewelers & Gemologists near Southern. “I think people get scared. I think they’ve seen a lot of massive, pardon the pun, roadblocks with the Central construction,” Fitzpatrick said.

Despite that, most feel it will be a much-needed revitalization of Rio Rancho’s main street.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a headache, but it’s going to be a wonderful project when it’s completed.”

For that first phase of the project, Rio Rancho said it will pay about $4 million of its own money in addition to $7.7 million in federal funding.

The full reconstruction project will go from Golf Course Road to Rainbow Boulevard.

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