The South Valley is in the midst of several road construction projects. Two of these are first and foremost storm drainage projects: Blake Road at Coors to the Isleta Drain, and Barcelona Road from Armijo Drain to Isleta Drain. Note the termini aren’t roadways but waterways.
Let’s go birds’ eye to get a better idea of Barcelona Road, in two parts, particularly as its in a part of town most residents of the area never get to experience:
Okay, those are really no help at all. They’re too small, but more importantly we lose the real reason for these road jobs, the Drains. Let’s go to the 1954 USGS map and lose the population/foliage clutter:
Ah, that’s better. The north/south candy stripes are to the east what was then known as the “El Camino Real,” now Isleta Boulevard. To the west is NM-45, now more commonly referred to as
Death Trap Coors Boulevard. You can probably make out Isleta Drain running north/south parallel to NM-45, while the Armijo Drain juts off from Isleta Drain just north of where Rio Bravo Blvd (NM-500) will eventually be (it’s not yet built in 1954), and then curls north across Barcelona (note the Barcelona School) a few blocks west of Isleta.
While both phases of the $9 million job focus squarely on storm drainage, the old (heck, it’s older than Rio Bravo and many now surrounding roads) Barcelona Road itself will also see very needed improvements. As the County puts it:
Roadway improvements shall consist of bicycle lanes, curb and gutter, and sidewalk to provide a safe roadway corridor.
The first phase of the Barcelona project will consist of road and storm drain improvements from the Armijo Drain to Joe Sanchez. Also with the first phase there will be new sidewalk constructed on the north side of Barcelona between Isleta Blvd and the Armijo Drain. The second phase will construct new road and storm drain improvements from Joe Sanchez to the Isleta drain.
Parsing this out, it appears Barcelona will get bike lanes throughout, but sidewalk only from Isleta Blvd. to Joe Sanchez Road (at what is now Barcelona Elementary School). Focusing on the roadway details, and leaving the water/storm elements for another time, a quick bike ride along Barcelona yesterday showed the sidewalk construction mid-progress (here looking about halfway between Isleta Blvd. and Joe Sanchez Rd.:
One thing to keep in mind with the photo above is that this stretch of Barcelona isn’t all torn up to Hell, unlike the section starting with those roadway orange barrels you can just barely make out in the distance. Another thing to keep in mind is that these newfangled sidewalks are a radical concept on “rural” Barcelona Road. Here’s a July 2015 Google Streetview of Barcelona looking in the same direction just a bit west of the earlier photo:
Hmmm…storm drainage and walking might be issues here.
So while the construction on Barcelona now, particularly with the simultaneous absolute closure of nearby Blake Road at
Death Trap Coors, is causing a bit of havoc for roadway users (including your humble blog poster who sometimes using this route to bike to work), that new sidewalk is n-i-c-e.
Of course, not everyone living in “rural” South Valley thinks sidewalks are nice. As has been true elsewhere, some feel sidewalks obliterate the historic “rural” feel of the centuries-old South Valley. (Full disclosure: Your humble blog poster lives on a South Valley street without sidewalks, and with speed bumps. He also tells you to get off his lawn.)
Of course the centuries-old historic “rural” (whatever that is) feel of Barcelona Road has also included semi-permanent flooding every Monsoon Season, this despite the near ubiquitous presence of ditches drains such as Isleta and Armijo.
While things are all torn to Hell now in the far South Valley, a year or so from now (Phase II is scheduled to start in September 2018) roads like Blake and Barcelona will be in far better shape, both in terms of storm drainage and roadway safety/access. At least to the all-important Isleta and Armijo Drains. For water is often the dog that wags the roadway construction tail down in these parts.