Upgrade complete on Grand Canyon Drive

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By Carol A. Clark

Gov. Richardson’s Investment Partnership Program, GRIP II, currently has 34 projects in design, 32 under construction and nine completed, including the Grand Canyon Drive Roadway Rehabilitation Project, which was celebrated by a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 90 Grand Canyon Drive in White Rock Wednesday.

Los Alamos County Council Vice Chair Robert Gibson and Adjutant Secretary Rebecca Montoya from the New Mexico Department of Transportation joined other officials for the afternoon event.

“The council’s highest priority strategic goal is the maintenance of quality essential services that require quality infrastructure, much of which is roads and utilities,” Gibson said. “They aren’t sexy, they don’t get a lot of attention, but it’s what all of our citizens use on a day in day out basis. This is a major street ... It’s great to see it upgraded ... and it’s great to celebrate the completion of a project – particularly one completed ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Council Chair Jim Hall was traveling to Albuquerque during Wednesday’s ceremony and praised the project in a telephone interview saying it is one of the ways the county is using the Gross Receipts Tax it now receives from Los Alamos National Laboratory. “The Grand Canyon Drive project represents the ongoing effort to replace our aging infrastructure piece by piece - something we wouldn’t be able to do without that tax revenue,” Hall said. “While the county really regrets the inconvenience these types of projects cause residents, we appreciate the fact that we have the funds to carry out this important and necessary work.”

Grand Canyon Drive is considered an important roadway in that it serves as a primary access route to residential areas, local businesses and to schools in White Rock. It’s also designated a “Safe Route to School” and a bus route to Piñon Elementary School.

The project scope included repaving the length of Grand Canyon Drive, which is some two miles long, Project Manager Ernesto Gallegos said, adding that the roadway also received wheelchair ramps, valley gutters, drive pads and passing zones within the existing four-foot sidewalks. The road now complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Our contractor was Mountain States Constructors Inc., well known for asphalt jobs throughout New Mexico,” he said. “The quality and hard work really shows in the smoothness of the road and they brought it in ahead of time and under budget saving about $300,000.”

The project began in October. It was scheduled for completion June 6 and was actually completed May 18, he said, adding that the overall project budget was $2.5 million, with GRIP II funding $1.3 million and the county providing the balance.

Overall, some $91 million for 73 projects has been funded under GRIP II to rehabilitate the state’s roadways and highways.