Sandoval Signpost
An Independent Monthly Newspaper Serving the Community since 1988
  Around Town

Reconstruction of the I-25/US 550 interchange scheduled for 2013

—Signpost staff

About seventy people attended a public hearing regarding the proposed reconstruction of the I-25/US 550 interchange conducted by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) at Bernalillo High School on October 4. Most of the public comment dealt more with how changes in US 550 near Camino del Pueblo would affect business, rather than the I-25 interchange itself.

NMDOT Public Information Officer, Phillip Gallegos, told the Signpost that this is phase one of a long-term plan that will continue to make improvements on US 550 west of Camino del Pueblo. He said that this was the final public meeting and that after the Environmental Assessment (EA) is finalized, the NMDOT will proceed to the final design. The project is funded, and construction is scheduled to begin in 2013.

The EA discusses proposed modifications to the Interstate 25 (I-25) and US 550 interchange (Exit 242) and portions of US 550 and NM 165 east and west of the interchange within Sandoval County. The project is proposed by the NMDOT in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The purpose of this project is to provide operational, accessible, and safe improvements to the interchange.

The project includes the portion of US 550 west of the interchange through the US 550/NM 313 intersection and the portion of NM 165 east of the interchange for approximately 1,500 feet. The project area serves as a regional commuter route and a local commercial corridor for the Town of Bernalillo. US 550 is also the primary highway from the Albuquerque area to the northwest quadrant of the state and the Four Corners area.

Three alternatives are discussed in this EA, including the No Build Alternative, which assumes the existing I-25/US 550 interchange and adjoining segments of US 550 and NM 165 would remain in their existing configuration. No major changes to the interchange or adjoining roadways would be made.

Build Alternative One would construct a new partial cloverleaf interchange at the existing interchange location and add loop ramps for the west to south and east to north movements.

NMDOT is recommending Build Alternative Two, which has the same design features of Build Alternative 1, except that the core of the interchange would be constructed as a single point urban interchange. A single point urban interchange has four ramps that converge at a single traffic signal in the middle of the interchange. In addition to the interchange, the proposed project would include other improvements:

  • Realignment of the I-25 frontage road and NM 165 intersection approximately 750 feet farther east than the existing intersection.
  • Modification of the US 550/Hill Road intersection to allow right-in/right-out movements only. A new 2-lane road would be constructed to the west of the existing intersection and would pass under US 550.•
  • Widening of NM 165/US 550 to three lanes in each direction.
  • Left turns would be prohibited between Rail Runner Avenue and NM 313.
  • A series of local access (or “backage”) roads would be constructed north and south of US 550 to provide access to businesses.
  • Extension of Rail Runner Avenue north to connect to Bernalillo High School.
  • Construction of continuous sidewalks and bicycle lanes on both sides of US 550 from NM 313 east to Hill Road. The sidewalk and bicycle lane would continue on the north side through the interchange.

Public involvement and agency coordination started early and was continuous throughout the study process. Activities have included two public information meetings, coordination with resource agencies, and the use of a Stakeholder Committee comprised of local and state agency staff, the Our Lady of Sorrows Church, and representatives of nearby Santa Ana and Sandia Pueblos. The EA describes impacts to the human and natural environments as a result of the proposed project as minor.

NMDOT prefers Alternative Two because the single traffic signal within the interchange maximizes the distance between this intersection and the next closest intersections to the west on US 550 and to the east on NM 165. In addition, public comments favored this alternative as a more modern and efficient design.

Following the thirty-day review and comment period, the NMDOT and FHWA will review and respond to all comments. The proposed project is not expected to have significant adverse social, economic, or environmental impacts that would warrant an environmental impact statement. Unless significant impacts are identified as a result of public review or at the public hearing, a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) will be prepared for the proposed action in accordance with FHWA and NMDOT procedures. The FONSI will address any concerns raised during the circulation of the EA, public hearing comment period, or coordination of the project with the appropriate agencies. The FONSI will be used as a basis for federal-aid authorization for final design, right-of-way acquisition, and construction.

For more information, visit or call District 3 Public Information Officer Phillip Gallegos at 841-2764.

Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade

Founding members of Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1973

Placitas History Project displays old photographs

—Bob Gajkowski

Some call it the Placitas Volunteer Fire Department, but its official name is the “Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade,” and its members take great pride in its history and origin. 

On Saturday, December 3, 2011, the Placitas History Project (PHP) will host a reunion of many of the original members of the Placitas Fire Brigade. A panel discussion with Brigade members will begin at 2:00 p.m. in the Placitas Library’s Collin Room. A photo exhibit celebrating the origins of this community institution will be on display at the event. 

In 1962, a late-night fire in the Village resulted in the death of a man, an event which became the catalyst for the formation of a fire department in Placitas. It was called the Placitas Fire Brigade, because it really began as no more than a bucket brigade. 

After countless bake sales, raffles, and other fund-raisers, the Brigade purchased a 1952 Seagrass pumper from Albuquerque. The first fire station was assembled from bits and pieces, odds and ends scavenged from a condemned military barracks. The loan of an 1800-gallon tanker from the State Forestry Department, a telephone line at Lizzie’s store and, eventually, EMT training: all these steps contributed to the Brigade’s growth and progress. Today, as part of the Sandoval County Fire Department, the Brigade is a model for many rural volunteer fire departments,

The public is invited to meet and talk with some very special people in Placitas’s history. For further information, call Bob Gajkowski at 771-0253. (note corrections in dates)

After a single day’s work, Bernalillo will have a multigenerational playground

—Sidney Hill, Sandoval County Public Information Officer

The Town of Bernalillo will come together to create a unique, new space for people of all generations to play. This multigenerational playground will be built completely by volunteers in just six hours.

A local agency, PB&J Family Services, is joining forces with two national organizations on this project—Humana, Inc. and KaBOOM! The playground will occupy space shared by PB&J Family Services and the Sandoval County Bernalillo Senior Center.

The Senior Center and PB&J have been long-time neighbors on Camino Del Pueblo, next to Loretto Park, in Bernalillo, making their backyards the ideal place to locate a multigenerational playground.

The playground will be located in Loretto Park and will be open for use by the public.

Thursday, November 3 is the scheduled build date. The work will begin with a 9:00 a.m. kickoff ceremony with a ribbon cutting scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Roughly three hundred volunteers are expected to participate in the playground construction. This unique playground will have adult and senior-focused elements such as walking paths and fitness stations to promote good posture, balance, and flexibility, as well as more traditional child-friendly equipment to form a truly multigenerational space.

Humana, a leading healthcare company, provided the bulk of the funding for the playground, while KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to saving play, was instrumental in creating the playground’s design. Since 1996, KaBOOM! has used its innovate community-build model to bring together business and community groups to construct more than 2,000 new places to play across North America.

As it typically does, KaBOOM! gathered input from local community members—from children to seniors—in creating the design for the Bernalillo playground.

For more information about this project, contact Dina Ma’ayan, PB&J Development Director, at 505-877-7060.




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