Handful of workers race to maintain 160 miles of bike trails - Albuquerque Journal

Handful of workers race to maintain 160 miles of bike trails

METRO AREA TRAILS NEED SOME TLC: Martin Perez emails he is a “recreational/fitness bicyclist (and is) concerned that very little has been accomplished in the overall maintenance and enhancement of the Bosque Trail, not only in the last 10 years, but for sure since September 2020.”

Martin speaks from personal experience, breaking a collarbone in a crash on the trail just south of Rio Bravo. He’s now back to biking and is requesting “regular maintenance of the Bosque Trail and other trails, noting that absolutely zero maintenance is apparent.”

He cites a collapsed “5- to 6-foot extremely dangerous section of the paved Bosque trail … just north of the trail and Rio Bravo.” And a “square hole just on the north side of the I-40 bike underpass that (has) needed repair and poses a severe safety issue for bikers.” And the “bumpy trail.” And he says there’s a real need for “repainting, repaving, improved signage and improving safety issues along the Bosque.”

Martin points out “COVID-19 has brought increased usage of the trails, and the Bosque Trail is the most popular. It is imperative someone, some agency, get off their duffs to provide required maintenance and to not pass the buck with more rhetoric and to do something.”

FYI, Martin is 79 and “available to point out additional areas of required attention of maintenance staff. … I want to continue my biking on traffic-less but safe trails.”

WITH LIMITED REPAIR POWER: Jessica Campbell, marketing and communications coordinator for Albuquerque’s Parks and Recreation, says the department is on it.

But FYI, there are just three full-time and three seasonal employees to maintain almost 160 miles of trail throughout the city, “including a large chunk of the 16-mile Paseo del Bosque trail, which has been recognized as one of the 25 best bike trails in the West.”

Campbell explains “trail surfaces vary but are mostly asphalt, concrete or crusher-fine material. Comprehensive trail maintenance by PRD includes:

• Re-striping, crack repair and/or repaving.

• Blowing/sweeping the trails to remove debris.

• Maintenance of the trail recovery zone – 5 feet on each side of the trail – mowing, trimming/removing invasive vegetation and weed suppression/removal.

• Litter collection and removal.

• Sign repair/replacement.

WORKING OFF A 2017 LIST: The six employees are divided into two-person teams, and each team “has about 53 miles of trail to maintain,” Campbell says. “PRD completed a comprehensive assessment of trails in 2017 that has helped prioritize maintenance and repairs. Within available resources, PRD has tried to ‘stick to the plan’ in terms of prioritizing major trail repairs.” Recent accomplishments include replacing bridges on the North Diversion Channel Trail, repaving a problematic section of the Paseo del Bosque Trail near Tingley Beach, and helping finish the last “notch” along the NDC Trail under Indian School Road.

AS WELL AS ON NEW STUFF: She adds that the “limited trails funds must also accommodate public demand for new trail segments to serve the city. For example, PRD is preparing to begin construction of the city sections of the Second Street/Alameda Trail this fall. The sections in Bernalillo County are nearly done and it’s important for Albuquerque to complete our portions of this fantastic new trail.”

AND REPAIRING WHAT WE HAVE: As for fixes on the go, Campbell says, “Cracks in paved trails that are larger than 2.5 inches wide are prioritized for repair. Crews carry ‘UPM’ material with them at all times, basically asphalt in a bag, so they can repair cracks as they go. (However), in March PRD tested equipment that allow us to repair cracks much faster and more efficiently, with better long-term results. … Due to Mayor (Tim) Keller’s support for trails, PRD subsequently was allocated $200,000 to purchase the new crack-repair equipment, which is now being fabricated. PRD expects to deploy the new equipment and begin sealing cracks at a much higher rate by the beginning of the fall.”

Regarding Martin’s specific concerns, sent in June 24, Campbell says the hole under I-40 is “on our list to fix. The spot close to Rio Bravo is on a section that is the responsibility of Bernalillo County and has already been fixed.”

And Martin’s right, trail use is way up in the wake of the pandemic. Campbell says, “Crews could use the community’s help to identify issues on our trail system. The best way to report an issue is by calling 311.”

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, NM, 87109.

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