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Posted June 11, 2013

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APS Accelerates Traffic Loop, Field Construction Plan at Jefferson for Safety Concerns

Project had been scheduled for 2015, and circulating misinformation may push it back again.

Albuquerque Public Schools has a design in place to solve a critical traffic issue at Jefferson Middle School—as promised to the community prior to capital elections in 2010 and 2013—but a bump in the road has come up.

Misinformation circulating through the school’s neighborhood could delay construction of a new student pick-up and drop-off loop scheduled to be built along the northern and eastern edges of campus. District officials, however, have shared project information several times with area residents over the past three years, including meetings on Feb. 15, April 25, May 15, May 21 and June 6 of this year. Many families participated in an organized campaign to get out the vote in January 2010.

This much-needed project is designed to create a safer situation by allowing students to be dropped off more efficiently and easing traffic on Lomas and especially Girard NE. The timeline was moved up from 2015 because of the urgent concern of student safety. With $1.5 million in voter-approved capital funding in-hand, the project addresses the following school needs and concerns:

  • Health & Safety: Construction of parent pick-up/drop-off loop road. It also will act as a fire department staging loop road, if needed
  • Physical Education Curriculum requirement: Construction of grass field and surrounding track
  • Site Master Plan drainage remediation: Address/engineer site drainage improvements issues and Phase 2

The project’s second phase involves construction of new music and band classrooms and a performance space, which will be built after the traffic loop is completed.

An anonymous website claims that the new traffic loop and revamped track and field will cause pollution from idling vehicles, bright lights and noise from evening sporting events, lower property values and cut off access to walkers and runners.

In fact, there will be no more cars attempting to access the school site than there were before, so there should not be an increase in pollution. There will be no stadium lighting and middle school sporting events are held during the day.

Property values should continue to increase in the neighborhood because Jefferson, which opened in 1939, is one of the most popular schools for parents requesting a transfer for their students. Proximity to UNM also is a factor.

Sidewalks, crosswalks and pedestrian gate openings will be added to the new track and field from the traffic loop, improving access for residents on Frontier Ave. and Lafayette Dr. NE who wish to use it when not in use by the school.

Area residents who attended the June 6 meeting expressed support for a city of Albuquerque design that’s part of a larger Girard corridor plan. APS officials had not looked closely at the plan because the city thought it was two years until the Jefferson project would be started. The city’s plan may not be funded.

While the district continues to review public comment, any construction must serve the needs of both the school and the community.

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