RIO RANCHO, N.M. — (This article is the second and final part in a series about Paseo del Volcan.)
A red bag blown against a barbwire fence is all that marks what could be the entrance to a road that could mean an economic boost for the City of Rio Rancho and Sandoval County.
Longtime real-estate broker and New Mexico resident John Black looks over the site, pointing in the direction Paseo del Volcan could begin off of Interstate-40, once all the money to fund the right-of-way has been secured.
Black believes in the prospect of economic stability this road would bring if it is ever completed. His family used to own what is now Quail Ranch, a patch of nearly 11,000 acres annexed into the City Rio Rancho that will host several miles PdV on donated land.
“With the assumption that some, if not all, of the right-of-way money has been secured, the cost estimates I’ve heard to finish the two lanes from Unser (Boulevard) to I-40 are around $70 to $80 million,” Black said. “This is less cost than the interchange construction that was done at Paseo del Norte and I-25, and less cost than the Coors (Road) and I-40 interchange.”
As far as the issue being quasi-political, Black said he has seen politicians from both parties do their best to push PdV forward where they could.
“I believe Paseo del Volcan is a bipartisan issue,” Black said. “It just makes sense because this road will not only create better transportation for the West Side, but it will create a site that we can use to generate new jobs.”
Black said if all the money was already procured for PdV, he predicted the road could be completed within a 36 months.
“I think since about 2002, it has always been about the money,” he said. “There was not any coordinated effort by local government and state to get this thing done.”
Black said PdV has been gaining momentum in the last few years because city planners have realized I-25 cannot be expanded any more.
“Plus, there cannot be any more expansion on the West Side without a truck-rated high-speed commuter and mass-transit access highway,” he said.
Steve Jenkins, CEO of Sandoval Economic Alliance, said the notion of PdV was brought to his attention within his first week of taking his position.
“I knew that this was one of the most important economic roadways, not just for us here in Sandoval County, but for the whole state,” Jenkins said. “This is because it would open up the west metro for development.”
Without PdV, he said, there isn’t anywhere else to grow economically since the metro area is surrounded.
“On three sides, you’ve got pueblos, and then on one side, you’ve got mountains,” Jenkins said. “The only place to grow is to the west, and that roadway opens up all of that for development, which will fuel the state’s economy also.”
He said he has never been in a state where it has taken this long to get a road done.
“Why has it taken so long to get a roadway that matters so much done?” Jenkins asked.
One suggestion he made was grouping all 160 parcels as one acquisition to streamline the process of completion.
“I think we are getting there in the acquisition of the right-of-way, but we do need construction money set aside by the legislature that triggers the federal funds to do the construction,” he said. “This road needs to be a true bypass; it needs to be four lanes divided with limited access for it to work well.”
After looking at some of the existing businesses on the southern side of where PdV would begin, Jenkins said there is upward of $1 billion of future development tied into the completion of the road.
Black said as it stands now, there is only 23 miles of road left from the Sandoval County line to the edge of Unser Boulevard that still needs to be researched for acquisition.