Work on the second phase of the Southern Boulevard Reconstruction Project will consist of improvements to the corridor from Commercial Drive to Golf Course Road. (Gregory Hasman/Observer)


The second phase of the Southern Boulevard Reconstruction Project is making incremental progress. 

The goal of the work is to improve and enhance Southern Boulevard from Golf Course Road to Commercial Drive, similar to the completed first phase of the project that extended from NM 528 to Golf Course Road. 

About 90 percent of the design was completed as of April. 

The design cost is about $2.4 million. Of which, $1.8 million is coming from federal coffers while the city is contributing $600,000. 

Improvements designed for the project include:  

  • Roadway widening to accommodate four lanes and a median; 
  • Access control to improve congestion and increase safety;
  • Construction of a multi-use trail, sidewalks and on-street bike lanes: For example, a 6-foot wide sidewalk would be built on the north and south sides of Southern by Western Hills Drive;
  • Traffic signal improvements and upgraded intelligent transportation system;
  • Better street lighting and landscaping;
  • Improved infrastructure: This could include replacing culvert pipes with concrete box culverts at the channel off Nicklaus Drive; 
  • Upgraded utilities.

There would be four project phases, although the timelines are unknown: 

  • Construction of a sewer line: Traffic access would move to the north side of Southern Boulevard to accommodate the work.
  • Work on the northern portion of Southern Boulevard: This includes the installation of new lights, a storm drain, sewer line and landscaping. Traffic would shift to the south side of Southern.
  • Similar work will be done as in the previous step, except on the southern part of the roadway. Traffic would switch to the north side of Southern Boulevard.
  • Traffic would shift to the outer lanes to accommodate the construction of medians, a water line and landscaping.

Rio Rancho residents will still be able to access businesses whenever phase two of the Southern Boulevard project commences. (Gregory Hasman/Observer)

Access to businesses will be maintained, and pedestrian detours will be provided during the project, HDR Engineering Project Manager Edward Potthoff said. 

There will be rush-hour backups “as you would have in any location in a metropolitan area,” he said.  However, traffic signals will be reconstructed to allow for smoother traffic flows. 

The impact to Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Fire Station 1’s operations should be minimal, Battalion Chief Ryan Floersheim said. 

“We will coordinate with the project manager during the project to stay ahead of any road closures and to develop contingency plans as needed,” he said.  

Design plans are expected to be completed in August. 

The process to acquire the right of way is scheduled to begin in the fall and could take about a year. 

Construction timelines are unknown. Work would be done based on funding availability.