US 550 work injury-free; timing of signals to help traffic flow

By Amy ByresUS550 Construction Update District 3 PDF

Construction on US 550 is moving along, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Sandoval County At the Sandoval County Administration Building, Assistant Engineer Isaac Chavez from the NMDOT presented at the county commission meeting Thursday night.

He estimated the road work going through Bernalillo will be complete in December. The next phase will improve the west side from the Rio Grande to NM 528, estimated to be finished in the fall of 2021.

The $23.8 million project began in October 2019.

The project incorporates three lanes in each direction on US 550, new bridge construction, traffic lights and sidewalks. The construction has been accident-free, Chavez said.

The next phase will include a continuous-flow intersection, or CFI. This traffic pattern reduces delays by allowing left turns and through-traffic going both east and west on US 550, according to a video about the traffic pattern on keepmoving550.com.

Commissioner Kenneth Eichwald, District 5, asked if it would be possible to take out some of the traffic lights along US 550.

“It is kind of frustrating to see that many lights within that span of the area, and it is going to hold traffic back eventually,” he said.

Chavez said, first, the CFI needs to be completed and the timing of the signal lights adjusted.

“So, what I am talking about, is everything coming off the interstate to NM 528, we will have lights reconfigured with the timing; we believe that it will work,” Chavez said. “I would like for us to be given some time to flesh it out and see how it plays out.”

The volume of traffic during afternoon rush hour is 2,000 vehicles per hour, according to keepmoving550.com. NMDOT will maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction through the duration of the road work, Chavez said.

Commissioners Katherine Bruch, District 1, and Jay Block, District 2, had concerns about businesses, asking if any have closed due to the construction; Chavez said no.

“We do have a media team that reaches out to business owners,” he said.

This team checks in with businesses on an ongoing basis. Also, keepmoving550.com provides the public with updates and information on the project, Chavez said.

The pandemic hasn’t greatly affected the project or its timeline, he said.