Fresh Albuquerque road project adds new stripes, but still leaves a bumpy ride

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It has a slick new look and a fresh set of stripes, but why does a big stretch of a recently revamped Albuquerque road still feel bumpy?

Making good on a project that’s been in development for at least six years, city crews restriped about three miles of Girard Boulevard over the summer.

Crews added dedicated and shared bike lanes to Girard, a north-south road, between Indian School Road and Thaxton Avenue to the south, near Gibson Boulevard.

While crews put a fresh coat an asphalt product on the road surface before restriping it, some drivers will notice that Girard south of Lomas is just as bumpy as it used to be.

A closer look reveals that there are just as many cracks and potholes on Girard south of Lomas as there were before the project. Some of the bad areas include southbound lanes near Silver Avenue and the intersection of Garfield and Girard.

The city admits, there’s road damage on that stretch of Girard.

“(On) portions of Girard, south of Lomas, we have sections that are in fair condition, and some that are in poor condition, but not very poor,” said Keith Reed, a deputy director of the city of Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department.

While the city acknowledges that the southern end of Girard has less than ideal levels of road damage, it says it’s not enough right now to warrant a complete road revamp.

“We know that we can get a few more years of useful life out of Girard, south of Lomas,” said Reed.

Instead of laying new asphalt millings on top of Girard, or filling the potholes south of Lomas, the city opted for a different kind of treatment. Crews sprayed a liquid asphalt product on top of Girard, which is commonly called “fog seal” in the road business.

Fog sealing is not a new type of technology, but one that often confuses people. While it’s considered a type of paving, fog sealing does not include laying new asphalt rock.

As described by the Los Angeles, California County Department of Public Works, fog seal serves to, “seal narrow cracks, slightly restore lost flexibility to the pavement surface, provide a deep, rich black pavement surface color, and most importantly help preserve the underlying pavement structure.”

“Girard just doesn’t justify having a full rehabilitation at this time,” said Reed, justifying the use of fog sealing.

While it may seem like a cosmetic fix south of Lomas, the city’s entire roughly thre-mile fog seal and striping project was relatively cheap, only costing about $375,000 total. Rebuilding the road could have likely more than doubled the cost.

“We have limited funding,” said Reed.

While there are potholes and cracks on Girard Boulevard south of Lomas, the city says the road still has about three to five years of structural life left in it.

The city says it also wanted to give neighbors something they’ve been asking for since 2011: a street that’s not just for cars.

“It was important to the community to have bicycle lanes added to the roadway, to provide multi-modal options,” said Reed.

The city says it does hope to repave about two miles of Girard, south of Lomas, in the next five years. It’s said to be one of the top projects on the city’s list of roads to be rehabilitated.

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