Gas Pipeline Construction To Impact Traffic To Taos

by Staff Reporter / Jul 17, 2017 / 0 comments
NM 68 on the way to Taos. Courtesy image

Gas Pipeline Construction To Impact Traffic To Taos

The road to Taos through Velarde and Embudo, also known as the Low Road to Taos, is the fastest way to get up to the Taos area, but starting in August it will be a slower trip. From August to November 2017, New Mexico Gas Company will realign a 6-mile stretch of natural gas pipeline in the Rio Grande Gorge. A new pipeline will be installed in the right-of-way along New Mexico 68, affecting traffic flow. Although construction is not expected to close the highway, construction will cause delays as the road is reduced to a single lane. Alternate routes to Taos are suggested for those who want to avoid construction (see map below).

Courtesy map

The existing pipeline is at risk because of landslides and shifting soils. Three landslide areas are impacting the pipeline on the west side of the Rio Grande between Rinconada and Pilar.

The existing pipeline must be readjusted periodically to ensure that natural gas is safely delivered to homes and businesses in Taos County. Relocating the pipeline will improve the reliability of service for about 16,000 customers in Taos, Questa and Red River. No service interruptions are anticipated during construction. The pipeline will also be expanded from 8 inches to 12 inches to increase capacity.

This section of gas pipeline that crosses the Rio Grande will be replaced. Photo by George Morse

New Mexico Gas Company has worked with the New Mexico Department of Transportation on a traffic control plan. Pilot cars will lead motorists through a restricted one-way section.

Northbound traffic will be stopped while the pilot car leads southbound motorists through the work zone. After that, southbound traffic will be stopped and the pilot car will escort northbound motorists. The pilot cars will operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week from August 1 until the project is completed in November. All roadway paving must be completed before cold weather sets in.