Q: How much will this project cost?
A: The project is estimated to cost about $33.3 million.
Q: How is the project being paid for?
A: The project is funded with a combination of state and federal funds. It is being funded from multiple fiscal years so that the NM Department of Transportation can also address other needs.
Q: How long is construction going to take?
A: Construction is scheduled to begin in January 2, 2020 and last about 18 months – through the summer of 2021.
Q: There has already been a lot of construction in Las Cruces. Why are you building this project now?
A: Growing Pains. The City of Las cruces and the surrounding area have experienced constant growth that has exceeded the capacity of the current infrastructure. We understand people are tired of construction, but planning and building a project of this size takes years. We have to get regulatory approval, line up the funding, finalize the design with public input and bid the project out as well as select a contractor. Then, once everything is in place, we have a fairly short amount of time to spend the project funding or lose it.
Q: This interchange is a very busy area. How are you going to keep traffic flowing?
A: We plan to keep two lanes on I-25 open in each direction and two lanes of University open in each direction during construction to the extent possible. There will also be some nighttime closures for bridge demolition, bridge construction and overhead sign structures. When we have a closure, we’ll let everyone know well in advance and will also establish detours.
Q: How will you let people know about construction impacts?
A: We will hold monthly public meetings to discuss upcoming construction impacts. We will also publish updates on the project’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. In addition, people can sign up for email updates by visiting our website. And, the New Mexico Department of Transportation will provide updated information at www.nmroads.com and through its 5-1-1 travel information service.
Q: Are you coordinating with NM State University? How are you going to handle their games and special events?
A: Yes, we are coordinating closely with NMSU. Construction will be ongoing during their games and special events, but we will coordinate as closely as possible to minimize the inconvenience. NMSU is supportive of the project because it will provide easier access on and off campus for students, faculty, staff and the public who visit or attend events there.
Q: Is the City of Las Cruces involved?
A: Yes, we have also been coordinating with the City of Las Cruces on a regular basis. We are discussing proposed agreements for the City to maintain landscaping, traffic signals and streetlights within the project area.
Q: I understand there will be artwork on the bridges. Why?
A: We wanted to add artwork for interest and because this project is a gateway to New Mexico, the community and to NMSU. We selected a local artist through a competitive process. More information is included in the “About” section of this website.
Q: Why can’t construction be done at night?
A: The traffic control is set up so that nighttime or daytime work can occur as needed. Due to the project’s proximity to hotels, nighttime work would be very disruptive. Also, the barricading required cannot be picked up and put down on a daily basis. Finally, nighttime work is less productive, therefore it would take longer – possibly almost twice as long, so the public might be inconvenienced for as long as three years instead of 18 months.
Q: Does the project include anything for the local intersections?
A: Yes. There will be new traffic signals at University and the intersections of Triviz, Las Alturas/Don Roser and the I-25 southbound off-ramp and I-25 northbound off-ramp. Also, there will be added turn lanes at some of these intersections and new sidewalks at University and Triviz.
Q: Why do you need two roundabouts?
A: Roundabouts actually help local traffic flow more smoothly because they do not have traffic signals. We looked at different alternatives for the northern roundabout, which is needed because of Triviz being built under University. The northern roundabout was found to be a better and safer alternative to keep traffic flowing. It will be similar to the roundabout in downtown Las Cruces and will be large enough for use by busses and delivery trucks as well as emergency vehicles. It will offer traffic the option to continue on Triviz or to continue to the southern roundabout under University Avenue. The larger roundabout to the south will offer drivers four options: 1) head back north of Triviz with a free flow movement, which may reduce congestion during the afternoon peak; 2) head west on Triviz to access Arrowhead; 3) head south of Triviz to Wells; or 4) keep going to access I-25. Also it’s important to note that roundabouts are safer than traditional stop sign or signal-controlled intersections. They reduced injury crashes at intersections where stop signs or signals were previously used for traffic control by about 75 percent, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Studies by the IIHS and the Federal Highway Administration have shown that roundabouts typically achieve a 37 percent reduction in overall collisions, a 75 percent reduction in injury collisions, a 90 percent reduction in fatality collisions and a 40 percent reduction in pedestrian collisions.
Q: How will emergency vehicles get through during construction?
A: We will work with the police departments at the City, County and NMSU, as well as local hospitals and ambulance companies, to make sure access is available and they are notified about construction. As on any other construction project, the contractor’s traffic control personnel will use flagging operations as needed to let emergency vehicles pass through the construction zone.
Q: When you prepared the model for this project, did you take into account traffic for special events? How will you handle that?
A: When we design projects, we take into account AM/PM peak periods so that we do not overdesign them. We will work with the police on managing traffic during special events.
Q: How will you work with businesses during construction?
A: We will maintain access to all businesses at all times during construction and will keep them up to date on construction as well as provide information they can share with their customers.
Q: Will Triviz Trail remain open during construction?
A: We will have to do some work on the trail. When this is going on, a detour route will be provided.
Q: How are you going to handle drainage?
A: We have identified some additional “ponding” areas within the project to handle storm water runoff.
Q: Who had the idea to start construction during other large construction projects? Can we finish one before starting the other?
A: The project on U.S. 70 is scheduled to finish soon and Valley Drive is scheduled to be completed in February 2020. There will be some overlap, but not much.
Q: Why wasn’t this construction incorporated with construction projects that occurred previously?
A: Partially due to funding. This is a large project that costs nearly $34 million. Another reason is because of the phasing of this project. Previously, the east side of the interchange was improved. Now the west side is getting improvements.
Q: Why is the east side (Las Alturas) not being addressed with this project?
A: Traffic modeling was done for 20 years out, modeling average day traffic with peaks (rush hours) in the morning and evening. The model found that the east side, Las Alturas specifically, functions at an acceptable level of service. Other projects in the future may address additional lane openings on Las Alturas.
Q: What is being done to address the Missouri Ave, Telshor Blvd, Lohman Ave intersections?
A: While this project focuses on access issues to NMSU, studies are being done to determine the viability of extending Missouri Ave further east. The NMDOT is also looking at corridor studies on I-25 north of Lohman to consider lane additions. In terms of the actual local streets, such as Telshor and Lohman, it is up to the City of Las Cruces to decide on improvements.
Q: Will this project coordinate with the project happening at Telshor and University?
A: All of the Telshor/University work is being managed by NMSU. If the projects overlap, traffic control will be coordinated to work in tandem with each other. I-25 University will continue to coordinate with NMSU on this project.
Q: How safe are these changes supposed to be for drivers after the project?
A: Safety is our top priority. Roundabouts are some of the safest intersections that can be designed as they eliminate several contact points and reducing the backup and congestion on I-25 that cause accidents.
Q: Where will drainage and retention ponds be located?
A: We will utilize water harvesting as much as possible. We also have drainage ponds on site located at different quadrants of the intersection to drain water. A small storm drain system will be installed to carry water to those ponds.
Q: Has the contractor had experience building a project of this size?
A: La Calerita Construction has been involved with numerous projects of various sizes including building the I-10/Avenida De Mesilla intersection. They have staff who have worked on numerous projects, including I-10/I-25. La Calerita is familiar with and has experience working on all aspects of this project.
Q: How much utility impact will there be?
A: There is very little utility impact. The only utility work being done is minimal lighting, gas and water line utilities on Triviz.
Q: Will there be artwork or a statue in the center of either roundabout?
A: While our scale model has a statue in the center of the larger roundabout just for fun, no artwork is planned for the center of the roundabouts at this time. However either the City of Las Cruces or New Mexico State University can elect to add artwork in the future if desired.
Q: Will there ever be a complete closure of all lanes at once?
A: There will never be a complete closure of the entire interchange. There will be specific ramps that will be closed at times during the night for bridge construction. All closures will include advance notice and information on detours
Q: Now that there are fewer cars on the road due to COVID-19, is there any way to speed up construction on the project?
A: We are looking at options, but have not yet identified any ways to significantly reduce construction time on the project.
Q: Will different types of trucks be able to use the interchange?
A: Yes. The I-25 University Avenue Project is designed to accommodate all trucks that would travel on an interstate.
Q: How high will the bridges be?
A: The bridges will have a minimum clearance of 17 feet.
Q: Will the new overpass be higher than the original one? If so, how much higher?
A: Yes, the new University Bridge over I-25 will be higher than the old bridge.The current design standards require a minimum clearance under the bridge of 16′-6″; however, the NMDOT always uses a minimum of 17′ to allow for future improvements. This new clearance requirement, along with the longer bridge span, increased the height of University by 4 to 5 feet in this area. The bridges will have a minimum clearance of 17 feet.