Life has gotten just a little bit better for people in Bernalillo.
During renovations to the commercial stretch of NM 550, a median was built on Camino Don Tomas at the intersection with the highway to separate east- and westbound traffic lanes. But what that did was prevent eastbound traffic on Camino Don Tomas from turning left into the Speedway gas station and H2ose It car wash. From there, motorists could also access several other businesses fronted on 550 by taking the “back way.”
“Some of the businesses were complaining,” said Troy Martinez, the Town of Bernalillo’s public works director.
But those businesses have been set free now, so to speak. The town recently opened Freedom Lane, which allows people to turn left just before the median onto a newly paved road. The road now allows drivers to gain access to Speedway, H2ose It, Guan Dong chinese restaurant, the Wash Tub laundromat, Pharmacy Plus, PurLife dispensary and Sonic Drive-In without taking the awkward route of having to turn north onto 550, then making a U-turn to get to those businesses.
Martinez said the access issue created by the median on Camino Don Tomas should have been a part of the 550 renovation.
“But DOT asked us if they funded it, could we do a project,” Martinez said.
The town was up to the task. It did require gaining right of way for the road from Freedom Storage, a storage facility behind the car wash.
There already was a dirt road, but the town put in curbs and gutters, a wall along the Freedom Storage property line, a drainage pond, and paved the road with asphalt. The town also had to relocate some fire hydrants.
Though Freedom Lane is open now, the project DOT asked the town to do is not quite complete.
“It’s technically open, but there’s still some striping and signage that needs to go in, and the striping is tied to the weather,” Martinez said.
Once the weather warms up a little more, the town will do the striping. Freedom Lane will be closed temporarily while that gets done. But for now and in the future, people trying to get to those businesses that used to be a pain-in-the-behind to get to are free at last to make that left hand turn.
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