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Median landscaping woes bedevil city on both sides of the river

LEFT: Dirt and ripped landscaping liner mark the median between Calle Nortena and Taylor Ranch Road north of Homestead Hill Circle. RIGHT: South of Homestead Hill Circle, the median along Taylor Ranch Road is neatly landscaped with gravel and trees. (Courtesy of Janice Anderson)

WILL PASEO EVER GET LANDSCAPING? Rhonda asks in an email, “Do you know if there are any plans to landscape Paseo del Norte east of Interstate 25 up to Tramway? It’s an eyesore, and we’re overdue!”

The short answer is there are none.

Kimberly Gallegos of the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District 3 office says, “NMDOT maintains the roadway from I-25 to Tramway on Paseo del Norte. The city maintains the landscaping on Paseo from Wyoming to I-25 north. … NMDOT has no plans thus far for this area.”

And Johnny Chandler of the city’s Department of Municipal Development says, “Historically the city of Albuquerque and NMDOT have worked together to help landscape our interstates. There are examples of landscaping that was paid for by the city of Albuquerque and examples of projects where the city and the state worked together to pay for interstate landscaping. As of right now, the city of Albuquerque does not have current plans for interstate landscaping. We are working to identify funding and often request that NMDOT consider landscaping funding on any project that is on its property in the city. We will continue to work with NMDOT, state representatives and internally to find ways to make our interstate system even more beautiful for everyone traveling through our great city.”

TAYLOR RANCH MEDIANS TRASHY TO THE NORTH: That report comes from Janice Anderson, who sent two photos because “a picture is worth a thousand words” and they highlight the “dramatic differences in medians (on) Taylor Ranch Road north of Homestead Hill Circle and those south of Homestead Hill Circle. When will our medians be updated? They look horrible, and this detracts from our home values. There are many custom homes in our area. Action is needed, please!”

Help is on the way.

Chandler says, “The city is currently in the early stages of designing the medians on Taylor Ranch Road between Calle Nortena to Butterfield. Design will include a meeting with the neighborhood this fall so they can choose the design and plant palette as is standard with the city’s prototype median projects – similar to the medians south of Homestead Circle shown in the photo. Once design is complete, we anticipate construction to begin sometime in early 2020.”

LOMAS LANDSCAPING STRESSED? Back across the river, Bob Ferguson emails, “We notice that in many of the city medians, trees are in severe need of watering. On Lomas between Carlisle and Washington NE, several of the trees in the medians seemed stressed for lack of water. Even if the plan is to convert to xeric, I would think the trees would remain. What is the city’s plan with regard to properly maintaining the trees throughout town?”

Jill Holbert, the city’s associate director of Solid Waste, explains: “The department contracts with WaterSmart to determine the water budget for seasonally appropriate watering for medians throughout the city. The department has a water manager who ensures that the medians are adhering to the water budget and are not overwatered or underwatered. Staff checked the irrigation system (July 8) for those medians on Lomas and found that it is operating correctly. Some trees have been stressed in the past and may not respond even if they are currently being appropriately watered. The approach taken to these trees is to trim away the dead wood, if possible, in the hopes that the tree will respond favorably. This has been scheduled. The department is also developing a tree replacement program citywide for those trees that have died.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the Metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858;; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, N.M., 87109.

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