BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) – A $3 million project to create a new storm drain system on Arenal near Coors has the road a bit messy, and drivers doing illegal things.
Only residents of the area are OK to drive in the construction zone, but on Saturday, dozens of cars used the closed off road to illegally get from one side of Arenal to the other.
“The signs say themselves ‘road closed,’ you’re not supposed to go through, but obviously people move them,” resident Dominic Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez, along with other neighbors, said they’ve seen people move the closure signs countless times, even after work crews move them back.
On Saturday afternoon, KRQE News 13 captured on camera a woman move an orange construction barrel.
John Marquez says it’s because of people like her that he got in trouble last Sunday.
“As I was approaching the sign you see here behind me, there was no road closed sign, just the two orange signs,” Marquez said, pointing to a “ROAD CLOSED” sign near Arenal and Los Faisanes.
As Marquez passed through, he was pulled over by a Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office deputy for going through a closed road.
“I informed her that I didn’t see one and she goes ‘Yes, they move it out of the way,’” Marquez said.
But the deputies alleged acknowledgment, along with him informing her that his mother lives in the neighborhood, didn’t stop the deputy from writing an $80 ticket.
Gonzalez, along with other residents who did not want to go on-camera, say they’ve seen this deputy nabbing people. However, they don’t think tickets are effective in deterring people who don’t live in the area from coming through.
“She’ll pull one person over, but while she pulls one person over, three go by her,” Gonzalez said.
The County released this statement to News 13:
The Arenal Storm Drain Project is a positive and much-needed infrastructure improvement for Bernalillo County’s South Valley,” county spokesman Andrew Lenderman wrote via email. “This nearly $3 million project will reduce flooding by creating a new storm drainage system. Bernalillo County asks that neighbors cooperate with all road closures in order to keep our community safe and help this project move along as quickly and efficiently as possible.
BCSO also said deputies will continue to hand out tickets if they see something illegal.
But Marquez thinks that’s not enough.
“I think there should be better planning in place, maybe more signs, directions, detours,” he said.
Detours to Blake and Bridge are in place, but neighbors say they are too out of the way to keep drivers from coming through the construction zone.
Marquez says he plans to fight his ticket — not to save $80, but to make a statement to the county.
Bernalillo County’s website says the construction phase of this storm drain project will be done in December.