LOS LUNAS — After nearly two decades of attempts to get the project off the ground, construction of the Los Lunas Interstate 25 Interchange and East-West Corridor project will begin in spring of 2022.
Kevin Eades, executive vice president of Molzen Corbin, the engineering firm the village hired for the project, said the Legislature appropriated $10 million and the New Mexico Department of Transportation appropriated $45 million, which is enough to cover Phase I of the project.
The first phase of the project includes the planning, design and construction of the interchange at I-25, a four-lane bridge over the Rio Grande and two lanes from I-25 to N.M. 47. Phase one is anticipated to be completed by spring of 2024.
Phase II will add another two lanes from I-25 to N.M. 47, and will cost about $45 million, but has yet to be funded.
“Phase II is dependent on finding funding, but we would anticipate at least a year of construction,” Eades said.
“We have been working on funding for Phase II for about a year now, and we’ve been looking for federal assistance but have not been successful yet. So far, federal funding is our best bet.”
Eades said they are also pursuing additional funding from DOT.
Acquiring the right of way has been a hurdle in the years-long process of making this project a reality.
“The village started about eight years ago and has already acquired some of the property and is currently in the process of acquiring the remainder,” Eades said.
According to a press release, previous engineering studies have shown that once the project is complete, traffic will decrease on N.M. 6 by almost 45 percent.
“Anyone who has traveled our roads knows wasted time in traffic and safety concerns have taken their toll on area drivers,” Los Lunas Mayor Charles Griego said in the press release. “Moving this project forward will improve the quality of life for everyone in Los Lunas and across Valencia County, and we are extremely grateful for the involvement and support we have received by all of our partners and stakeholders, including the governor, our state legislators, the New Mexico Department of Transportation, Valencia County, and others, to this essential regional project.”
The village is currently utilizing $3.5 million in Federal Highway Transportation funds to purchase needed right-of-way.
The village committed $2.5 million in local funds for this project, along with $2 million GO Bond funds that were approved in 2018 by Valencia County voters.
Currently, the river bridge crossing has an estimated 26,000 vehicle trips per day, with expected increases to more than 43,000 by 2035.
Additionally, the Rail Runner commuter train railroad gates block traffic an average of 28 times daily, and the situation leads to intense congestion during morning and evening commutes.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham added support, saying in the press release, “The village of Los Lunas and Valencia County are an important part of the regional transportation network and economy. It’s especially critical to keep our highways and bridge crossings safe, up-to-date, and without unnecessary delays. This investment is going to have a measurable impact on generations to come.”
For more information and updates on this project, visit loslunasnm.gov and click on the I-25 East/West Corridor Project tab.