Bernalillo County commissioners make Atrisco Vista a priority - Albuquerque Journal

Bernalillo County commissioners make Atrisco Vista a priority

An Amazon truck turns onto Atrisco Vista NW near the company’s fulfillment and distribution center. The Amazon facility has highlighted Atrisco Vista’s importance as a growth corridor for the county. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Bernalillo County commissioners refocused their planning priorities this week on Atrisco Vista Boulevard NW as a key corridor for growth and development in the northwestern quadrant of the county.

Commissioners voted 4-0 on Tuesday to approve a resolution adding the Atrisco Vista corridor to the county’s regional transportation infrastructure priorities.

Commissioners also voted 4-0 to rescind a 2020 resolution that identified Paseo del Volcan — a north-south corridor about two miles west of Atrisco Vista — as a priority for the county. Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada was absent during the vote.

“I think it’s important to ask for realistic priorities,” said Commissioner Barbara Baca, who asked the board to approve the change. Atrisco Vista “is ready for construction and Paseo del Volcan is not. It’s better planning.”

Atrisco Vista is envisioned as a principal north-south artery in the northwest Albuquerque metro. It is now a nine-mile, two-lane road from Central Avenue north to Paseo del Norte with an interchange at Interstate 40. The roadway serves the Double Eagle II airport and provides access to several large neighborhoods off Paseo del Norte.

A 2019 planning study called for widening Atrisco Vista from Double Eagle II north to Paseo del Norte and extending the road north to Southern Boulevard west of Rio Rancho.

Bernalillo County this year is seeking $5 million in capital outlay funding during the 60-day legislative session to pay for improvements to the Atrisco Vista corridor, county spokeswoman Tia Bland said. The county also plans to apply for federal grant funding for the project.

Atrisco Vista gained importance in recent years after Amazon announced plans in 2020 to build a fulfillment and distribution center at I-40 and Atrisco Vista. Commissioners that year approved $6.5 million in infrastructure upgrades at the site in preparation for the 2.5 million-square-foot facility just north of I-40.

The 2020 decision to declare Paseo del Volcan a county priority was contentious. The proposed 37-mile roadway — under discussion for decades — would connect US 550 to I-40, creating a four-lane bypass that would cover a vast swath of the West Mesa.

Commissioner Quezada at that time proposed making it a priority for the county to seek legislative funding for the project. Quezada’s bill passed on a 3-2 vote. The board’s action Tuesday rescinded it.

Then-Commissioner Debbie O’Malley opposed Quezada’s measure, calling Paseo del Volcan an example of “leapfrog development” that benefited a few private land owners, including Western Albuquerque Land Holdings, which owns the land slated for the massive Santolina development. Atrisco Vista mattered more, O’Malley said.

Baca, who succeeded O’Malley, said the county needs to make clear that extending Atrisco Vista is more important at this juncture.

“We need to build our infrastructure where our current residents are first,” Baca said.

In a related matter, the New Mexico Department of Transportation filed a condemnation lawsuit Jan. 12 intended to lock up state ownership of rights-of-way for an interchange at Paseo del Volcan and I-40.

The proposed interchange is located about two miles west of Atrisco Vista, at the doorstep of the Santolina development.

The state agency has been unable to agree on an appropriate price for the properties with owners, including Bernalillo County and others named as defendants in the suit. The suit asks a 2nd Judicial District Court judge to award the state fee-simple title to the properties.

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