The Bernalillo Old Highway 44 project, initially tripled in cost, is progressing with separate road and culvert work, while local champion climber Katie Bone is eyeing the 2028 Olympics after an injury.


A long-sought after Bernalillo road project battered by fallout from the pandemic and the wave of inflation is back on track at about three times its original cost estimate.

As its name implies, Old Highway 44 is a 0.6-mile remnant of what once was the way west out of Bernalillo. Now it’s a residential street squeezed by cottonwood trees connecting Highway 313/Camino del Pueblo and Santa Ana Road north of U.S. Highway 550.

It also crosses an irrigation drain ditch requiring a new 60-inch culvert, which has helped to blow up earlier cost estimates.

With some pleading from the town, the state Department of Transportation extended a funding deadline and a few months ago separated the roadway overhaul and the new ditch crossing into separate projects. That allowed the town to advertise this week for bids on doing just the roadwork.

Contractor’s bids are due to be opened on Nov. 1.

On Oct. 9, the Town Council approved a DOT agreement for $2.2 million more, which will cover the culvert and other incidental work. As its 5% matching money, the town is providing $111,000 of the cost.

The culvert work is not likely to begin until after the 2024 irrigation season.

In other action, town councilors:

* Gave town approval to the transfer of a liquor license from the Range Café on Rio Grande Boulevard in Albuquerque to a Cheba Hut Toasted Subs restaurant. The new eatery at 781 West U.S. Highway 550 will occupy the vacant site once home to the Coronado Cantina.

* Approved two agreements with the Mid-Region Council of Governments to act as fiscal agent for the town in handling $552,000 in state funds to purchase police vehicles and equipment and $1.5 million to begin planning and design of a new main fire station.

* Recognized the hard work and perseverance of Bernalillo climber-athlete Katie Bone as winner of the 2022 American Ninja Warrior Women’s Championship. News of her victory only became public in May with the television broadcast of the event.

“We know that when a young person, and to us you’re still very young, does so well, a lot of that has to do with support from your family, your grandmother, so we congratulate all of you,” said Mayor Jack Torres. A proclamation he signed declared Oct. 9 Katie Bone Day in Bernalillo.

The proclamation also noted Bone’s advocacy for and management of Type 1 diabetes.

Bone had taken time off after suffering a climbing injury during the USA National Women’s Team Climbing trials in February. That precluded trying out for the 2024 Olympics sport-climbing events.

“2024 unfortunately is out for me, so I’m looking forward to 2028 and continuing to work toward the World Cup,” the 17-year-old Bernalillo High School student said.

Meanwhile the nationally ranked climber is back to competition recently traveling for three months.

“We just returned from China about a week and a half ago, and we leave for Idaho in the morning,” her mother Tammy Bone said.

Bill Diven

Bill Diven is a lifelong journalist living in Placitas. He is the editor of the Sandoval Signpost.

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