Some movement has started on the long-delayed bicycle and horse paths along upper Meadowlark Lane. But don‘t expect asphalt to be laid right away along the south side of the road, nor preparation for a dirt horse path along the north side. Both of those could still happen before fall, but the step being taken now is to notify property owners about vision clearance requirements where their driveways approach Meadowlark Lane.
Before the end of June, Village Administrator Ron Curry is expected to send certified letters to villagers whose properties will be affected by the project. Village Clerk said June 17 those letters would likely be mailed during the week ending June 24 following review by Village Attorney Randy Autio.
Last December, Curry estimated construction of the two paths would begin in the spring and be completed by May 1.
No one could have been much surprised by the delay. Only the plagued pathway project along Corrales’ business district has been waiting longer.
An Upper West Meadowlark Lane Task Force was convened in 2011 to make recommendations on re-building that road from Loma Larga to the Rio Rancho border and the requested bike lanes along it.
That effort came after Village officials turned back a $214,000 grant from the Mid-Region Council of Governments to begin the project, which had been proposed in 2009 or earlier. (See Corrales Comment series on trails, starting with Vol. XXVIII, No.18, November 7, 2009 “First Steps to Implement Village-wide Trails Plan”)
At the August 25, 2009 Village Council meeting, a resolution was approved to design and build bike lanes and a five-foot wide compacted earth trail along upper West Meadowlark.
A general consensus evolved August 13, 2012 during a public meeting on the task force recommendations to move ahead with proposals that included a curving realignment of the road, horse and pedestrian paths and cycling lanes along one or both sides of the road.
Perhaps the most substantive input during the August 2012 meeting was provided by former Corrales Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Borman. He followed up his comments with a written submission the following day calling for:
“• a two-lane, 25 miles an hour roadway utilizing appropriate design, alignments, drainage, landscaping, buffering and traffic calming devices;
- two paved bicycle lanes, one adjacent to the outside edge of each traffic lane;
- paved pedestrian trail within the northerly 10 feet of right-of-way; and
- a well-defined unpaved equestrian trail within the southerly 10 feet of right-of-way.”
Borman stressed the need to clear away obstructions, or encroachments in the right-of-way. “All encroachments within the right-of-way should be removed by the adjacent property owner. If not removed, they should be considered abandoned. If abandoned, they should remain only if they enhance the streetscape design.”
He also insisted that bikes and horses should not be funneled to the same paths. “Avoiding the combining of different users onto a single trail is of the highest priority. Shared equestrian use is especially problematic within this collector road corridor. Separation of equestrian trails and pedestrian trails from vehicle and bicycle traffic is achieved by horizontal distance and/or by buffering and landscaping.”
Meadowlark residents Linda and Kurt Muxworthy were consistent critics of plans to change the roadway, but at the August 2012 meeting, Kurt Muxworthy read a statement generally supporting the task force recommendations —except for accommodating bike riders, which they still opposed.
Considerable discussion focused on whether bike lanes should be added to both the north and south sides of the right-of-way. Task force recommendations called for a bike lane or path along the uphill north side, whereas on the downhill south side, cyclists were to be encouraged to “take the road,” meaning use the full eastbound traffic lane. That concept assumed that cyclists can maintain the same speed as motorized vehicles going down and would be part of the normal flow.
But some in the audience objected. What about kids on bikes? they asked.