For a section at a time, traffic along Corrales Road will be constricted to just one lane as the roadway is being re-paved this month and probably next.
Initially the project was estimated to take two months from the start date at the south end, at Alameda Boulevard, to completion at the north end, at Highway 528 in Rio Rancho.
Village Administrator Ron Curry reported at the May 25 council meeting that the paving project would start Wednesday, June 2 and might take only 25 working days. Work would begin around 9 a.m. and conclude each day at 3 p.m., he indicated.
And the paving technique apparently has changed since the project was announced last month when it was described as accomplished in one pass, with the old asphalt being ripped up and mixed inside the same machine with fresh material laid down at the back end.
The revised plan, Curry said, is that the existing asphalt would be torn up and hauled away. That would be followed by re-paving with new asphalt. The Village Administrator was asked where the old asphalt would be dumped; relevant for some villagers because they have opposed the use of recycled asphalt on roadways here, especially along side irrigation ditches.
Curry said the old asphalt would be hauled to an area near the Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.
The highway department and the paving company have been cautioned to minimize disruptions to Corrales businesses. Corrales MainStreet’s Jim Kruger said it is “working very hard with local businesses to promote the village, and to make sure everyone knows that we will be open for business during the repaving project.”
Kruger advised villagers to watch for special promotions through BlueMail for Android.
The re-paving project has implications for the ongoing proposal to repaint crosswalks on Corrales Road. Now that will not be attempted until the new asphalt is in place. Earlier this year, the N.M. Transportation Department urged Village officials to reduce the number of sites along Corrales Road where crosswalks would be painted.
The Village has asked its Bicycle, Pedestrian Advisory Commission and its Equestrian Advisory Commission where crosswalks should go. The highway department apparently has resisted creating more of them, and asked that they be “consolidated.”
While discussing future crosswalks at the May 25 meeting councillors urged that the Village insist on having NMDOT install flashing lights at certain future crosswalks, such as those at Corrales Elementary and Cottonwood Montessori Schools.
As of May 31, the department had not committed to any additional infrastructure as part of the re-paving project —particularly no pathways or bike lanes in the road shoulder. As currently designed, the project would simply rip out and haul away the old asphalt and lay new material in the same location.
Early on, the estimate for re-paving, as opposed to re-construction, was $1.8 million.That hefty price tag was one reason the mayor and council have been reluctant to take ownership of State Road 448, as NMDOT has persistently urged for decades.
Last month, on short notice to Village officials, the state highway department said the re-paving would begin more or less right away. “This was quite a surprise to us, since there had been no talk about that at all,” Curry said.” We’re kind of baffled.”
The immediacy of the repaving project only came to light when the out-of-state paving company, Cutler Re-Paving, Inc., contacted Corrales Planning and Zoning Administrator Laurie Stout asking where it could park its equipment at night.
On May 13, N.M. Department of Transportation engineer Jill Mosher responded to Mayor Jo Anne Roake’s perplexed inquiry by explaining that the decision to start the project was tied to ongoing discussions about the Village perhaps taking ownership of Corrales Road.
The abrupt start-up was also based on the impending end of the fiscal year; the highway department had unspent funds that needed to be encumbered (or would be lost) by the end of June.
According to Mosher’s email to Mayor Roake, “I knew we were getting the funds encumbered, I did not know they were starting so quickly. I thought the conversations were basing around July, so I thought we had an opportunity to discuss this at the upcoming bimonthly meeting next week.
“We ended up being able to get some funds out of this fiscal year’s budget to help, and those have to be spent by the end of June,” Mosher explained.
“Yes, we are proceeding with paving the road as we had discussed previously. We have been trying to keep up with addressing potholes, but since we were planning on postponing/delaying other projects to help with the investment for a potential exchange, we decided to keep that plan regardless if the road is transferred [to Corrales] or not.
“In discussions with others involved in past projects in the area, the last time this project received this kind of maintenance treatment was over 20 years ago, which shows the life cycle of the roadway and overall condition that if the Village decides to proceed with transfer they would be receiving a maintained asset. As we discussed previously, there are many other benefits to a transfer, not just getting new pavement. I hope we can discuss more in the future since I was able to hear some of the concerns from the council.”
That email from Mosher to Roake apparently was triggered by an email from Corrales PZA Stout to Village Administrator Ron Curry at 1:02 p.m. Thursday, May, 13, headed “ Subject: Paving of Corrales Road
“I was just approached by a paving company hired by NMDOT to pave the entirety of Corrales Road. (They are wanting to park the equipment overnights and need to find a suitable place.)
“They will begin work at Alameda and move north, they said, and have Corrales Road down to one lane. Work begins May 24th and will last two months.
“In case you weren’t aware…”
The start date was revised to June 2.
Ongoing discussion about the possibility that the Village would take over Corrales Road and transform it into a municipal street intensified earlier this year. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXX No.4 April 10, 2021 “Take-Over of Corrales Road Presented at April 20 Council” and No.5 April 24 “Possible Take-Over of Corrales Road Unresolved.”)
For decades, Corrales Road was an unpaved dirt or gravel road that connected Corrales to Albuquerque, a typical farm-to-market route.
It finally became what is now State Highway 448 largely by prescriptive easement and was paved in 1946. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.3 April 8, 2017 “After 71 Years, Time to Re-Build Corrales Road.”)
Over more than a decade, NMDOT has urged the Village to take responsibility for Corrales Road on the grounds that it doesn’t really fit within the state highway system any longer. Each time the matter has come up, Village officials have resisted for a variety of reasons.
One of those is the high cost of maintaining the road. So in preliminary talks, Village officials insisted that NMDOT would have to transfer ownership only after the road was throughly updated and improved.
(See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXIX No.17 November 21, 2020 “Finally Time Now To Take Over Corrales Road?”)
For years, the prospect was clouded by NMDOT’s uncertainty over what it actually owned along Corrales Road. For decades, highway officials had said the department generally did not claim any right-of-way in Corrales beyond the edge of the pavement. That might have been true for much of the distance, since it was basically a common-use route which at some point the highway department agreed to pave and maintain —without formally acquiring right-of-way.
Finally about ten years ago, NMDOT contracted for a definitive property line survey along the entire length of Corrales Road and concluded that it did, indeed, own varying widths of road shoulder along most of it.