Although the state highway department wants Village government to take over Corrales Road, officials here are still hesitant. A big issue is timing. The transfer of ownership and management of State Highway 448 would happen only after Corrales Road were thoroughly upgraded with paving and other maintenance of the right-of-way —but that would cause major disruptions to Corrales businesses, Village Administrator Ron Curry said.
A N.M. Department of Transportation (NMDOT) presentation to the mayor and Village Council about the proposed transfer was originally scheduled for September, but it was pushed back until November. “Now it looks like it won’t be until early next year,” Curry said in a November 25 interview. “Our last meeting with NMDOT was abruptly cancelled by the State. We don’t know exactly why.
“But one of the things we review with them when we meet on a quarterly basis is the upper Meadowlark project, and of late we’ve wanted to establish what crossings would be available to us in advance of moving ahead with the Pathway Project.
“We’ve been trying to get permission from the State to use crusher-fines or some other surfacing that would be used at those crossings,” Curry explained. “But for whatever reason, we don’t know why NMDOT didn’t want to meet with us.” As in the past eight months, the scheduled meeting was to have been virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I have to believe that the cancellation was partly due to the COVID, but they have just not been willing to make a decision on the crosswalks for the pathway which was supposed to have been the focus of the meeting last week.
“We want to move forward on the pathways and they are reluctant to give us a decision. That segues into the whole discussion of Corrales Road. The State very much advocating that Corrales take over the road.
“But when we re-open that discussion, or if we re-open that discussion, one of the first things we’re going to have is Jill Mosher from the state highway department come in front of the Village Council to give the parameters and pre-requisites that need to happen on both sides before they could give us the road.
“In the past, they have said they would give us the road which would be like new. In other words, they would go in and do whatever work was required on the road so that it was up to snuff, whatever that is, and when that was done, they would give us the road.
“What comes into play at that point is how long it would take them to do that,” Curry added. One of the most important things is the timing of all this. We would want some assurances from the State about how long it would take. I don’t think it would be fair to the residents or the businesses along Corrales Road” to have their lives and livelihoods disrupted for extended periods of time.
“It’s important to have a public discussion about this because people here have very strong opinions about taking over Corrales Road.” Among other considerations, he said, is that the Corrales Public Works Department has more capabilities to carry out road maintenance than in the past. Once NMDOT has brought Corrales Road up to like-new condition, “we feel the Village is quite capable through our Public Works Department to maintain the road.”
The bottom line for NMDOT, Curry stressed, “is that they really want us to take over Corrales Road. They’re always nudging us, or gently leveraging us, to do that.” He said ongoing frustrations among business owners, town officials and commuters regarding disruptive improvements to Highway 550 through Bernalillo are also a factor in the department’s desire to be rid of roadways like Corrales Road in its system.