LOS LUNAS—The new N.M. 6 bridge over the Rio Grande in Los Lunas — also known as the Main Street bridge — is nearly completed with two lanes going in both directions.
Final touches on the project will be completed in the coming months, with an expected final completion date of May 2021, said Kimberly Gallegos, public information officer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3.
The project took a little more than a year, and will span through May when an open-graded friction course is laid down on top of the existing asphalt. Gallegos said there will be a temporary halt in construction after the old bridge is taken down and when the OGFC is installed since the pavement needs a warmer temperature to lay it down correctly.
The construction of the bridge was completed by FNF Construction, Inc., and the tearing down of the bridge was subcontracted to Guzman Construction Solutions, an Albuquerque-based construction company.
Back in November, the construction hit its final turn home when tie-ins were being installed on the new bridge, which, at the time, limited traffic to one lane in each direction.
The bridge itself sits much higher than the original one, which Gallegos said has been done with modern improvements in bridge creation to make it more durable in the long term.
“(The bridge) wasn’t structurally deficient by any means, but it was hitting the end of its life span,” Gallegos said.
The life span of the last bridge, which was built in 1974 — is typically around 50 years. That will be the same case with this newer bridge, too.
Temporary striping will be put in place for the time being before the final striping is added after the completion of the OGFC in the spring.
While not “structurally deficient,” the bridge was older and in poor condition after a study was conducted by NMDOT.
Jim Buckman, project engineer with William Sale Partnership/Parsons Brinckerhoff engineering consultants, told the News-Bulletin in 2017 that the bridge itself didn’t meet “current design standards,” which led to a new bridge being constructed.
Work was done in 2013 to rehabilitate the bridge for use — around 26,000 cars cross over it every day — but Buckman at the time said the steel pillars holding the bridge were eroding and the girders that supported the deck had large cracks.
The project’s $18 million price tag was mostly funded by the National Highway Performance Program — a federal program — with some help from the state.
Besides a newer, much taller bridge, there are new bike routes and landscaping that will be installed in some portions, Gallegos said.
“This project has gone really smooth,” Gallegos said. “Final grading of the river bank will match pre-build conditions as close as possible. An aesthetics plan was developed by a landscape architect; it will highlight historic Route 66 with beautiful signs, decorative landscaping around the structure and aesthetic pedestals at each approach. Decorative bridge lights will outline the bridge for safety.”