10/06/2014 - Editorial by Renee WilkinsFrankenroads. A hodgepodge of mismatched appendages with seeping wounds and patches. Scars from surgeries to repair bursting arteries. Stitches and seems zigzagging their length and breadth. Roads in Rio Rancho have a face only a mother could love, and monsoon season transforms them into a real monster.
Our roads aren't pretty, but they get us to and fro... most of the time. Funding roads gets tricky with a general fund budget equivalent to that of Farmington, a city half our size. Shockingly, 2012 was the first year a Governing Body implemented a road maintenance fund to put a dent in repairs.
Past Governing Bodies have relied on revolving road bond cycles to fund roads, but much of that money funded new roads. The costs are staggering. With 475 miles of city paved roads, it would cost about $665 Million ($1.4 Million/mile) to repave them all. Yearly optimal maintenance of paved roads costs around $57,000/mile, while the 144 miles of dirt roads come in at about $5600/mile to maintain. $60-70 Million will reconstruct Southern Blvd, in the planning and design phase now, and will get some assistance from MRCOG.
Generally, the County leaves Rio Rancho to fend for herself while the outlying areas of Sandoval County reap the rewards of our property taxes. I was encouraged to hear the County recently stepped up to the plate by putting the completion of Westside Blvd on its Capital Outlay request for State funds. However, in FY13 the County spent a "whopping" $272k on Guadalajara Rd and drainage, and $18k on an experimental coating on Agora Rd (because a resident was complaining about dust). We provide the lion's share of the County's revenue, yet we only get back the bread crumbs. With 4 potential (County) tax increases on the ballot in November, Rio Ranchoans have a right to expect more bang for our county tax buck.
Making roads a priority, last year our Governing Body purchased new road repair equipment and an additional road grader. This year they increased the road maintenance budget to $1 Million. Since 2012, our Council has shielded us from the road bond bullet during hard economic times, but it is an eminent reality looming in our future. Continuing the progress of the past two years stimulating business growth and construction will beef up our GRT. Developers also play a key role by often installing millions in infrastructure and constructing roads that benefit us all.
Patience is hard to learn in an age of instant gratification, and as slowly as government moves, planning ahead is critical. Most residents on dirt roads must bear the burden of a SAD to pave their roads. In the meantime, we have to keep it in perspective - as long as the roads serve their purpose and are structurally sound; beauty is in the eye of the beholder.