When does a highway become a street? When does a thoroughfare to somewhere else become a place to “shop-and-stroll”?
Questions such as these might not seem germane when talking about the project to improve the Coors & Blake intersection and roadway immediately adjacent, and putting the term “shop-and-stroll” within the same metaphorical area code patently ludicrous.
But is this really the case?
Before are two Google StreetView images of the NW corner of Coors at Blake. The first is from 2008, when the Coors & Blake project was first scheduled to be completed. The second is from earlier this year.
Notice any differences?
To put names/businesses on the places depicted in the 2nd photo, looking left to right that’s a Wendy’s (open until 1 a.m., 2 in the morning on weekends), a Murphy’s Express gas/convenience store, and an O’Reilly Auto Parts. So, regardless of how one is getting to these places, there’s a new desirability to slow down, stop and enter establishments in what was just a big sea of sand eight years ago.
As proposed, the Coors & Blake project predominantly considers the space above to be the 2008 sea of sand. Depicting the scope of such projects is always tough without passing along a bewildering number of plan drawings, so let’s focus first on just one-cross section shown last Thursday at the Coors & Blake open house, that of how Coors will “typically” look post-project:
Even in this little excerpt of the overall, there’s a great amount of information to ponder. A few of those ponderings:
- There ain’t any sidewalk.
- Bike lanes aren’t buffered, despite the 24,000 average weekday traffic and 45 mph posted speed.
- Driving lanes are 12 feet, a bit wider than the recommended “calming” 10.5 or 11.
- There’s a curb median preventing left turns into businesses along Coors until a certain spot we’ll talk about later.
- Getting back to the sidewalk, or lack thereof, there’s a seven-foot taper scheduled that will be great for drainage, but probably not quite as great for cyclists or anyone walking the dirt gully between the taper and businesses.
In sum, the project simply proposes Coors remain a highway at Blake. The 45 mph speed limit, if it is to technically remain in place, is nothing but a number. Actual speeds will continue to be far above that. Folks wishing to slow down and stop at the businesses will do so at their peril. Anyone choosing to bike along this stretch will find it extremely uncomfortable, particularly at the circled area at the very top of this birds’ eye project view shown at last week’s public meeting:
The circled area is one interesting aspect of this photo. Another is that it was taken prior to the Wendy’s even existing. See that big sea of sand…that’a big-ass Wendy’s now (open until 1 a.m., 2 in the morning on weekends!). Access to the O’Reilly’s, Murphy’s and big-ass Wendy’s all happen at one spot on Coors.
And, as in unfortunately true in little snippets throughout Coors in the South Valley, the developer of O’Reilly’s put an teeny orphan bike lane southbound adjacent. So, the upshot is that anyone insane enough to ride this orphan bike lane will gratefully see it now connected to a bike lane (at least as far south as the project extends…it stops after that), IF, and I repeat IF, they can survive crossing this singular entrance to the three business, an entrance that will include a left-turn option for northbound Coors motorists.
And yeah, the sidewalk abruptly ends at the intersection of Blake.
To repeat and conclude: The proposed 2016 project to improve the intersection of Coors & Blake leaves Coors the same de facto NM-45 highway it was when created decades ago, the same highway running south along the rural farms, rail tracks, cattails festooned wetlands, pueblo and sleepy neighborhoods down to Los Lunas.
To say the plan represents what Coors was in 2008 is actually understatement. It really harkens back to a time closer to when Wendy’s looked like this:
Not wishing to only complain without offering solutions, but also looking at how long this post has droned on, let’s take a gander in our next post on how Coors & Blake might better serve its neighborhood in 2016. Meanwhile, I suddenly have this serious jones for a hamburger for some reason. I can’t explain it.