From left, Albuquerque City Councilor Cynthia Borrego, Duke City Mayor Tim Keller, Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull and Rio Rancho City Councilor Karissa Culbreath help get the Westside Boulevard expansion project underway Wednesday afternoon. Amy Byres photo.

ALBUQUERQUE — It wasn’t that long ago, Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull recalled, that Westside Boulevard dead-ended before it reached Golf Course Road.

Hull also recalled since the well-traveled roadway was extended to Golf Course Road and well beyond, the City of Rio Rancho had paid for the Westside-Golf Course intersection to be improved, with more lanes for those turning south or north.

Hull said he’d been trying to get that roadway widened for at least seven years, going back to the R.J. Berry administration in Albuquerque.

Westside’s current two-lane roadway east of Golf Course no longer accommodates the amount of traffic the road hosts and is lacking pedestrian and bicyclist facilities. It becomes four lanes west of Golf Course, when it leaves the City of Albuquerque and enters City of Rio Rancho jurisdiction.

Estimates from the Mid-Region Council of Governments peg the number of vehicles there daily at just under 19,000. The improved roadway will be able to handle more than 30,000 vehicles when the project is completed.

By the late summer of 2022, there will be two lanes in both directions on the approximately mile-long stretch of Westside between NM 528 and Golf Course Road. The $9.3 million for the project comes from U.S. Highway Administration funds and City of Albuquerque general obligation bonds, with the assistance of the Mid-Region Council of Governments and the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Westside’s expansion will improve traffic flow, enhance drainage and add bicycle lanes in both directions. Improved ADA compliance, plus street lighting in the new medians and a multi-use trail on the north side promise equality of access, greener travel options and improved amenities for commuters.

“It’s been a long, long time in the making. … Our continued investment on the West Side north and south of I-40 is apparent,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

“Not only are we expanding drivers’ capacity, we are also investing in facilities for walkers and bicyclists. West of the river has houses, retail and businesses, but it does not have multi-modal accommodations and we are changing that.”

After roadway construction is completed, a Phase II will include a review of potential noise-mitigation measures and creation of a median landscaping prototype designed through a community decision process.

“I am committing $300,000 from District 5 GO bond set-aside funding to ensure the quality of life of adjacent neighborhoods is preserved in Westside Boulevard’s Phase II,” Albuquerque City Councilor Cynthia Borrego said.

“Westside Boulevard is a gateway thoroughfare for Rio Rancho and Albuquerque residents,” Hull said. “I want to thank the City of Albuquerque for working on this much-needed and long-anticipated project that benefits all West Siders.”

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer