ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A popular and scenic road seems to have turned dangerous for motorcyclists. Bikers and lawmakers in that area believe it is because of a recent road project by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. While motorcyclists said a new seal on Sandia Crest Road is making the pavement dangerous and slick, NMDOT said it is just standard road maintenance.
Zantaysah Deleon said she is devastated following the death of her best friend, 25-year-old Jessie “Jay” Baldonado. “He just found out that he was going to be a dad,” Delone said. “He was very excited about that.”
Delone said Baldonado was at the Sandia Crest early Sunday morning to watch the sunrise with friends when things suddenly took a turn. “He drove around a corner, and all of a sudden, he wasn’t in front of them no more,” Deleone said. “They turned around, and he was off the side of the mountain.”
Baldonado died in the third motorcycle crash on Sandia Crest Road in less than a month according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. “As soon as I knew, I turned around this rear corner, and my tire came out from under me,” Jessica Taylor said. “I tried to correct it, and the next thing I knew, I was tumbling down a cliff.”
Taylor, who is a local rider, described herself Tuesday as a “walking bruise” with 17 stitches after crashing her bike on the same road earlier this month. Taylor said she has been riding for a decade and wasn’t speeding. “I think it was the road for sure,” Taylor said. “I don’t think that crash should have ever happened because I wasn’t doing anything wrong.”
State Representative Stefani Lord, who bikes herself and lives in the area, points to a fog seal that NMDOT placed on the road on June 7 which she said is making the road slippery. All three accidents have happened since the seal was placed. Lord wants signs put up to warn riders. “I want a full investigation to make sure they looked to see if it was the road conditions and that sealant that caused that accident,” Lord said. “I don’t want them to blow it off and say ‘oh, that was speeding or negligent.’ I want them to look into it.”
NMDOT said they inspected the road and determined there was no residual oil on the roadway and do not plan to place any signs. Deleon said she hopes something is done so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. “It doesn’t feel real,” Deleon said. “I don’t think it is going to feel real for a very long time.”
According to the U.S. Forest Service, fog seals may be slippery or hazardous if not applied properly. NMDOT said the road has now been inspected multiple times. NMDOT also said that Albuquerque Police Department uses that road to train their motorcycle unit and has trained since the fog seal was placed without any problems. BCSO said the cause of Sunday’s crash was excessive speeding.