Alamo Street residents upset

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By David Giuliani

There’s no sugarcoating the condition of a portion of Alamo Street: It’s a muddy messy.

And some residents there are fed up.

The city suspended construction on Alamo from McRae to South Pacific streets at the onset of winter in mid-December. The same went for Piñon Street.

With 18 snows so far this season, Alamo has become muddier and muddier. Two weeks ago, a garbage truck got struck. And the street contractor, Sangre de Cristo Gravel, found its tractors sliding around when it tried to fix after a recent rain.

Leo Armijo, who lives on the section of road, said the problem has worsened as the snow has melted.

“They could have finished the street before winter, at least so we wouldn’t have all that mud,” he said.

Rudy Castellano, another resident, said mud has splattered on houses and that it’s hard to make it home without a four-wheel drive. He said residents have to constantly clean their cars.

“It’s more than an inconvenience. There is a lack of communication from the city and the contractor,” he said.

His daughter, Ana Castellano, said the muddy street is causing problems with her car.

“The bottom of the car is all scraped up. It’s a pain in the butt,” she said.

For years, the city has been working on Alamo Street, mostly fixing drainage problems.

Residents contend that the city has torn up the street more than once. But city officials said the city hasn’t done anything over again on Alamo. They said a contractor did some patchwork paving before a previous winter.

City Manager Timothy Dodge said contractors have to make a decision if winter catches them by surprise — either do a quick patchwork job or leave a dirt road. In this instance, he said the contractor may have saved money if it had done some patchwork at the onset of winter. Now it’s had to deal with a bigger problem with all of the mud, he said.

“We’re trying to ease the discomfort for residents. Construction is never easy,” Dodge said.

The project started later last year because of the funding cycle, officials said.

Carlos Ortiz, the city’s public works director, expects the project to start up by early April and take two to three weeks.

The project includes curbs and sidewalks.

Miguel Melendez of Sangre de Cristo said he understands the residents’ frustration in dealing with the multi-phase project. But he said most of them were thankful for the improvements.

“They remember how bad the drainage was,” he said. “We’ve been there six or seven times to maintain the roadway after storms (since December).”

Melendez said to start the project again, Sangre de Cristo needs unfrozen ground and a temperature of 44 degrees and rising.

“Believe me, we’re ready to start this project up,” he said.

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The city is getting ready for another major construction project involving Mills Avenue and Seventh and Eighth streets. It will be paid for with $2 million in federal stimulus funds, officials said.

Twelve companies attended a pre-bid conference for the project, Ortiz said.

Officials hope to start the project in mid-April. It is the biggest construction project paid for with federal stimulus funds in northeastern New Mexico, according to the city.

The project will include paving and sidewalks. It will cover Mills from Grand Avenue to Hot Springs Boulevard, Seventh from Mills to Grand and Eighth from Mills to University Avenue, Ortiz said.