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550 traffic shifts, details on ‘mountain of crap’

BIG CHANGES TODAY ON U.S. 550: The New Mexico Department of Transportation will shift eastbound traffic to the north side of the roadway starting Monday so crews can install a 60-inch storm drain pipe on the south side.

A news release from NMDOT’s Kimberly Gallegos says the work is scheduled to run through Oct. 26, though “we recognize this is a major inconvenience and will work with the contractor to complete installation of the storm drain pipe as quickly as possible.”

For the next two weeks, it also means “access to some businesses, including the Speedway, Guang Dong Chinese Restaurant, Pharmacy Plus, Wash-Tub Laundromat and Sonic Drive-In, will be from the small private road and Freedom Lane via Camino Don Tomas south of U.S. 550 during this work. Custom business access signage will be installed to help guide travelers to these destinations.”

And there is a light at the end of the tunnel – “work on this phase of construction, U.S. 550 east of the Rio Grande Bridge, is nearing completion, with crews expected to move the phase west of the Rio Grande Bridge on or before Dec. 1.”

MORE ON THE “MOUNTAIN OF CRAP”: Last week’s column on the pile of asphalt and concrete along Interstate 25 as you come into Albuquerque from the south prompted some public comment.

One caller who’s in the recycling business pointed out “it’s got to go somewhere.”

Another reader wrote, “Your Oct. 5 column was a perfect example of indifference. The answer re: the stockpile of material on I 25 was complete with explanations by Bernalillo County of the how and why the material was appropriately stored and legal. … Excuses do not answer the question.”

And the question was, why is it OK to have to look at that as you drive into town?

Wes emails that Bernalillo County’s “response to the complaint is not completely accurate. The stockpiling is controlled by the NM Environment Department and specifically the Solid Waste Regulation. I have a similar issue in Rio Rancho. The recycling regulation is codified in 20.9.3.29. The county has to meet those regulations including annual registration and an accounting of the amount stockpiled. The total amount recycled has to be equal to 75% of the annual amount. They can not just stockpile the asphalt. Please look at the remedies provided for non compliance in 20.9.3.29(C).”

First, Tia Bland with the county says, “There are no specific county regulations that apply to the general stockpiling of unsightly recyclable materials. If the property had a different zoning or the stockpiled material was trash and junk or had rodent harborage, county regulations would apply. It might be worth it to check with the New Mexico Environment Department Solid Waste Bureau.”

And so as Wes recommends, we turn to the state Environment Department. Spokeswoman Maddy Hayden says, “I spoke with our Solid Waste Bureau, which indicated these materials likely qualify as ‘clean fill,’ which is not considered solid waste and does not need to be managed as recyclable material. Definition of clean fill, 20.9.2.7.(C)(4) NMAC: Clean fill means broken concrete, brick, rock, stone, glass, reclaimed asphalt pavement, or soil that is uncontaminated, meaning the fill has not been mixed with any waste other than the foregoing and has not been subjected to any known spill or release of chemical contaminants, including petroleum product, nor treated to remediate such contamination; reinforcement materials which are an integral part, such as rebar, may be included as clean fill; clean fill must be free of other solid waste, to include land clearing debris, construction and demolition debris, municipal solid waste, radioactive waste, hazardous waste or special waste.”

And so it appears the mountain stays.

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

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