ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There are bad roads across the city of Albuquerque. But there’s one spot that has neighbors hitting bump after bump just trying to figure out who’s responsible for fixing it.
Every day driving to and from home, Elaine Bryan and her neighbors have to drive the same route near Coors and Paseo Del Norte.
“One way in, one way out,” Bryan said. “People are swerving around, trying to avoid the potholes.”
Bryan has lived in the area for 27 years. She’s tried calling, emailing, and sending letters to get someone to fix the deteriorating pavement and potholes, but she quickly ran into another problem.
It seems like an easy question: Who owns the road? But finding that answer, Bryan explained, has proved very difficult. “You’d think, but I can’t get an answer from anybody. Nobody wants to claim jurisdiction and nobody wants to fix it.”
When Bryan couldn’t get a clear answer, she called KRQE News 13. So News 13 called the New Mexico Department of Transportation, the City of Albuquerque, and Bernalillo County—and each agency told KRQE News 13 the road isn’t theirs.
“It kind of is a road mystery right now,” explained Kimberly Gallegos, District 3 spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
“I mean we definitely own Coors up until that edge of the pavement, but other than that I can’t speak for that roadway,” added Gallegos.
The NMDOT says its jurisdiction ends at the curb near Coors. So what about the rest of the roadway? Could this small stretch of road that leads to homes, businesses, a local gym, and even a school really be in no man’s land?
A Bernalillo County Geographic Information System, or GIS map shows part of the road could be on To’hajiilee reservation land. So News 13 called them.
KRQE News 13 left messages for the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, or SIPI, a community college the road leads to. News 13 also contacted the Bureau of Indian Affairs on multiple occasions.
City maps appear to show the roadway falls under BIA land. Genevieve Giaccardo, Interim spokeswoman for the BIA, offered the following statement:
The United States owns the land where SIPI is located and the school was built long before the apartments you referenced in your inquiry. The United States is responsible for the entrance to the campus only. SIPI maintains access to the campus from Coors Road to the school security gate for school-related traffic. It is the responsibility of the land owner or developer to ensure there is valid access to their property. Those using a part of this access road to get to and from the new development would reach out to the land owner or developer to discuss repairs of the road to those developments.Genevieve Giaccardo, BIA Interim Spokesperson
Even though that includes the road that neighbors want fixed, the BIA says it is only budgeted for maintaining the road for school traffic, since SIPI was built long before the additional development.
Giaccardo could not answer how that is measured, or how often the road is maintained by SIPI. Any access or maintenance beyond school traffic, she explained should have been worked out by developers in the area.
So while the BIA is now pointing to nearby developers, Bryan is tired of getting tossed around.
“Nobody who has called has gotten an answer, and we can’t get it fixed,” Bryan explained. “It’s just frustrating more than anything.”
If no one can agree to take the reigns, the NMDOT says it’s possible to bring each agency to the table and try to come up with a better solution. “Because eventually, the road will have to be repaved or redone.”
KRQE News 13 checked with the city Planning Department to see if any developers worked out maintenance or access agreements before building near the road. Albuquerque Planning Director Brennon Williams said he did not locate records of any access or maintenance agreements between developers along that road.
If they haven’t done so in the past, Giaccardo suggested nearby developers work with city planning to request formal access to the road from the U.S. Government, which would include how to address maintenance issues.
The NMDOT did go out and fix some of the potholes along the road as a courtesy, but Gallegos said the state cannot continue maintenance on roads it does not own.