Volcano Heights Access Modification

Access Modification for Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard within Volcano Mesa

In April 2013, the City requested approval of new intersections on the limited-access Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard within Volcano Mesa to support the Volcano Heights and Volcano Cliffs Sector Development Plans. Access on these limited-access facilities is the purview of the Transportation Coordinating Committee (TCC), a standing committee of the Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTB) within the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG), made up of representatives from the jurisdictions within the Albuquerque Metropolitan Planning Area.

Because of its regional scale involving multiple access points, the scope of this request was much bigger than a typical request, which is usually one intersection or access point to serve a particular prospective project. In order to assess the larger regional implications of the City’s request, the TCC agreed to consider recommendations from MRCOG staff, in addition to the typical technical recommendation from the Roadway Access Committee (RAC).

City staff met several times with the TCC, the RAC, and an ad hoc group of TCC members. The materials presented at each meeting are available below. The City hired a traffic consultant, Nelson\Nygaard, to perform a traffic study for the Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan transportation network, as well as supplemental analysis related to the implications of adding access points to support development within Volcano Mesa, including Volcano Cliffs, Volcano Trails, and Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan areas.

Ultimately, the TCC approved the City’s requested access points as mapped on June 19, 2013 via the following resolution.


September 7, 2012:  City staff presented the Volcano Heights Sector Development Plan to the TCC.  The Sector Plan recommended additional access points on both Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard in order to support a Major Activity Center on the City’s West Side in an effort to improve the jobs/housing balance, increase employment opportunities west of the Rio Grande, and improve traffic congestion by adding to the street network grid, supporting transit-oriented development, and bringing opportunities for retail and services closer to existing residential areas.

March 1, 2013:  City staff presented to the TCC about its upcoming request for access modification within Volcano Mesa.

April 18, 2013:  The City submitted to MRCOG an official request to modify access on Paseo del Norte and Unser Boulevard within the Plan boundary.

May 6, 2013: Staff presented to the RAC members a general introduction and overview of the City’s access modification request.

May 7, 2013:  Staff presented to an Ad Hoc Group of TCC members who agreed to meet to consider the City’s request from a policy perspective looking at the regional transportation network.

May 29, 2013:  Staff presented to the RAC for a second time.

June 3, 2013:  Staff presented a second time to an Ad Hoc Group of TCC members who agreed to meet to consider the City’s request from a policy perspective looking at the regional transportation network.

June 5, 2013: Staff presented to the RAC the results of the requested additional traffic analysis, travel demand model analysis for 2025, and the pedestrian access analysis.

June 7, 2013:   The City presented a modified request to the TCC, based on the additional traffic analysis performed at the request of the RAC in May 2013.  MRCOG staff distributed its professional recommendation at this meeting but did not provide a formal presentation.  At this meeting, Bernalillo County requested that the City consider a grade-separated intersection at Paseo and Unser as a compromise to more closely follow the existing intersection spacing policy on both roadways.

June 18, 2013:  Staff from agency stakeholders met to discuss the City’s access request and the County’s request to consider a grade-separated interchange at Paseo del Norte.  The notes reflect the compromise agreement that resulted from this discussion.

July 2, 2013:   The RAC met July 2, 2013 and voted 3-1 to approve the Access Scheme D with the following provisions, which are adjustments to the original Scheme D to produce the Scheme D as of June 19 shown in the map above:

  1. The intersection of Unser and PdN is an at-grade signalized intersection which, in the future, is approved for a grade-separated interchange.
  2. The rights-of-way for the grade-separated interchange will be secured in the near future (with either local or federal funds through the TIP process).  (NMDOT is determining how much additional ROW would be needed and providing a cost estimate.)
  3. As future traffic and development conditions warrant, the region would program the future grade-separation.  (This will be added to the 2040 MTP next year.)
  4. The grade-separation will need to accommodate multimodal transportation through the interchange.  This will be noted in the resolution.
  5. In the meantime property owners will be required to build their half-section of PdN & Unser as an at-grade intersection until such time as it becomes grade separated.
  6. Intersection #4 (the one on Unser about 1,027 feet south of PdN) will be an unsignalized full intersection until the main intersection becomes grade-separated.
  7. Intersection #2 (the loop road at Unser about 1,105 feet north of PdN) will become Right-In/Right-Out only on both sides.
  8. Intersection #1 and #3 (the loop road intersections on PdN) will be full signalized intersections, but once the future grade separation occurs they will be over ½ mile apart.

July 12, 2013:  The TCC voted to approve the access modifications (including those requested by the City within Volcano Mesa as mapped in Scheme D as of June 19, 2013 and the associated resolution (TCC 2013-03).