A project to replace stoplights at a North Main intersection will reduce traffic to one lane in both directions for the next two months.
Access to Country Club Road from North Main will be closed off early Monday morning as crews begin upgrades to the traffic signals. The project is expected to be completed by the end of September.
With a traffic count of 25,000 vehicles a day on North Main, drivers should expect congestion in the area for the duration of the project, City Engineer Louis Najar said.
“What I tell my guys is during the day when we’re working, knock it down to one lane in each direction, but whenever possible, open it back up to two when we’re not working,” he said.
All turning lanes from Main to Country Club will be blocked off with construction barrels, and Country Club will be barricaded on both sides of Main. Entries on Country Club to Allsup’s on the east and Stripes on the west will still be accessible, however.
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“You will not be stopping on Main Street, so it will just go right through, but you can’t turn left, you can’t turn right,” Najar said.
Electronic message boards and other signage have been placed several blocks in advance on each side of the intersection.
Signs will detour traffic to Eastern New Mexico Medical Center from the south on Military Heights Drive. From the north, traffic can reach the hospital via Wilshire Boulevard or Sherill Lane.
The length of the $750,000 project is due to extensive infrastructure work that is expected, Najar said. The conduits for the electrical wiring under the streets will be completely replaced.
“The main problem is the conduit that is underground is cracked and is too small. When the conduits are too small and broken, we can’t push conduit through anymore,” he said.
In addition, Najar said crews will likely have to remove a lot of concrete. The current stoplights were installed in 1985.
“Back in the day, they’d dig a hole and pour a whole load of concrete. Now you’ve got to jackhammer that out,” he said.
He estimated the concrete under the poles could be 8 feet deep. In addition, there is a 36-inch waterline and fiber-optic connections under the streets that crews will have to work around.
The new poles will also be set back farther from the street, requiring utility poles to be repositioned, as well. The control box for the stoplights will be moved from the southeast corner of the intersection to the southwest corner.
When completed, the poles will match those downtown — black in color with audio and visual cues for the crossing signals. Crosswalks will also be repainted.
The city is paying $37,500 of the upgrade costs, with the remaining $712,500 paid from a 2019 legislative grant.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or firstname.lastname@example.org.