Last night at our regular University Heights Association board meeting I discovered that no one would be available to attend the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony celebrating the completion of the Lead/Coal project we've all been surviving. As a freelance writer with a flexible schedule, who works from home--not to mention President of the University Heights Association--I stepped up.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I had the idea that there may be media there, so this morning, rather than working at my desk in my comfy pants, hair pulled into a pony tail, and putting off my shower until needed, I showered and got ready first thing. As in I-put-on-an-actual-dress-and-make-up- and-blew-dry-my-hair kind of "got ready."
Apparently my subconscious had my back.
Mayor Richard J. Berry was there.
Council member Ray Garduno was there.
I think there were four television cameras.
When someone on City staff asked if I would like to speak, I said, "Um. Yeah. Sure," a response that I am sure concerned them...
The Mayor spoke about how important this project was for the city, the great job the Task Force had done, and the construction companies, and the neighbors for their patience.... then a staffer mentioned that Mayor Berry advocated to keep the Federal funding (which was in jeopardy) in place... there were thank yous from Don Hancock (my fellow board member who hadn't expected to be able to attend)... then the Mayor introduced me.
It's funny how even though I am writing this moments after returning, my memory is already dull. I remember saying something about when I first came to the neighborhood to attend graduate school. How crossing the road felt like playing Frogger. I think some people chuckled. I thanked the construction companies for the ardent attempt to keep us all informed and how much I loved the LeadAndCoal.com website (because I'm a bit of a geek). I think I kept my remarks to under 3 minutes (because that's how I roll).
Here's the official release from the City:
Albuquerque, NM— Surrounded by neighbors, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry cut the ribbon to officially open the new Lead and Coal Avenues.
The 18 Month $28 Million Dollar project reduced a travel lane in each direction from I-25 to Washington and added a bike lane and pedestrian amenities.
“Lead and Coal are now open” Mayor Berry said. “After 18 months of construction, we want to thank the neighbors and businesses for their patience while we completed this great quality basic service.”
The reconstruction project actually began more than 20 years ago, when the neighborhood representatives came to city hall requesting assistance in making the corridor more pedestrian friendly.
“When the project was in jeopardy of losing its Federal funding through the State, Mayor Berry stepped up and worked with the Governor to keep the project moving forward,” Department of Municipal Development Director Michael Riordan said. “It’s projects like these where I am most proud to serve my community.”
Landscaping crews are finishing up some irrigation and planting on the far east side of the project near the interstate. That work should be complete in the next couple of weeks.
Honestly, everyone did an admirable job, the work you can't see that happened underground will improve flood control in the neighborhood, and the sewage capacity. The above ground work looks fantastic. I wish ALL the sidewalk around town were as wide and smooth.
And thank god it's over. And I hope that the traffic calming measures are effective and people SLOW DOWN.
And that cyclists USE THE BIKE LANE, and not the sidewalk.
What's your impression of the project now that it's over??