ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Ahead of the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the City of Albuquerque is touting new equipment its using to fix up prime route to Balloon Fiesta Park. A couple new machines are helping make for what the city says will be a “smooth ride” along the North Diversion Channel.

The work is part of what the city’s Parks and Recreation Department director calls a newly waged “war against trail pavement cracks,” with crews patching thousands of cracks on paved trails in the last few months. The city spent roughly $130,000 on two new paving machines made by a company called Crafco: the “SuperShot” and the “Patcher II.”

Crews demonstrated the machines after a news conference Thursday morning, saying they’re helping crews make better repairs in a far shorter amount of time. CABQ Parks and Recreation Director Dave Simon said the new machines allow for crews to move five to ten times faster on trail pavement repair work.

“The old way was to take shovels of this asphalt material, which is sort of plastic and soft at room temperature,” said Thursday. “Take shovels of this, place it in a crack and then do the hard work and manual labor, repeatedly tamp that down until the crack was filled.”

Simon said the old method also required multiple patches over patches to fill cracks between less than an inch to four inches in width. That old material also used to shrink and deform quickly amid Albuquerque’s vast temperature swings.

With the new asphalt repair investment, the city says it will be able to better maintain the paved trails over time, averting the need for expensive, complete resurfacing projects. Over the last few weeks, the city says crews have already addressed cracks along the Paseo de las Montañas trail and other trails on the westside.

Simon says the city’s 150+ miles of paved trails have seen an increase in use which has led to significant damage. “About a year and a half ago we inventoried the condition of many of our paved multi-use trails and our rapid inventory documented over 5,000 cracks in those trails that needed to be repaired,” said Simon.

Crews are now focusing on fixing cracks along the North Diversion Channel Trail, the main alternative route to Balloon Fiesta Park. That trail stretches north to south, starting near the University of New Mexico North Golf Course, continuing up north to Balloon Fiesta Park.

City parks says it has patched roughly 300 cracks on roughly 2.5 miles of the more than 8-mile North Diversion Trail. The first day of public, on-field Balloon Fiesta events begins next Saturday, October 1.

“We want to make sure this year’s 50th Fiesta is the best Fiesta ever, and one of the ways we’re doing that is to make for a smooth ride to get to and from Fiesta,” Simon said. “Part of that is filling cracks on this important transportation route to and from the park.”

The “SuperShot” machine uses a 500 degree “mastic” asphalt, glue-like material. That material takes about 20 to 40 minutes to cure. The Patcher II has an aggregate material. The new machines should also keep trails from being closed for long stretches of time, according to the city.