Residents at the west end of Valencia Road are more than fed up. They are hopping mad and sick and tired of having their front-yard fences knocked down by reckless drivers who constantly exceed the 30 mph posted speed limit.
“My fence has got knocked down 20 to 30 times,” said Nemesio Martinez.
The most recent fence-ramming came on July 29 when a Los Lunas man crashed through Martinez’s wire fence at the west end of his property in a 1999 Chevrolet pickup truck, as documented by the police report. Now, the wire just sits in a heap on Martinez property.
Installed in Martinez’s front yard is a sturdy 30-foot long, steel guardrail with a cattle-panel wire fence behind it. Cars have crashed into his yard so many times that he and his wife, Mary Lou, say they will not let their grandchildren play in the front yard.
At least 25 residents along Valencia Road signed a petition in June 2000 requesting speed humps and sent it to the county. In a letter dated March 21, 2001, the engineering firm of Molzen-Corbin and Associates wrote County Manager James Fernández that “the traffic volume on Valencia Road from Jacobo to Ladera is above the cutoff number of 3,000 vehicles per day.” Therefore, speed bumps could not be constructed on a “feeder” road.
“Under our ordinance, there are specific criteria, and, if it is a feeder road, then it would not meet that criteria,” said Fernández Wednesday in regards to putting speed bumps on Valencia Road.
In a traffic study in conjunction with the Manzano Expressway done in 1997, AVID Engineering of Albuquer-que reported that 5,800 cars travel Valencia Road daily.
Residents from Meadow Lake, El Cerro Mission and Las Maravillas all use the road to get to NM 47.
Debbie Lopez-Young, who lives just west of Martinez, right before the Ladera Road intersection, said her fence has been knocked down 10 times. When that happens, her cows usually get out and cross the road, creating a driving hazard.
Realizing the county’s financial difficulties, Lopez-Young suggested that if speed humps could not be installed along all of Valencia Road, which begins at the Two Minute Warning Sports Bar on NM 47, then at least three speed humps could be installed in the area of her home and the dangerous curve just east of the Martinez’s house.
“We want speed bumps,” said Lopez-Young. “I feel like we’re the forgotten people of Valencia County. We have lost our quality of life as far as I’m concerned. My fence has been hit more than 10 times.”
“There is road money,” said Commissioner Gary Daves, in whose district the area is situated. However, there are not enough employees to get the job done, according to Daves.
“It’s a question of priorities,” Daves said. “It may be a high priority. I would support it if it meets the criteria, and we get the money.”
In addition to having her fence knocked down, Lopez-Young said, “Every morning I’m picking up beer bottles in my driveway.”
Martinez frequently finds people using the gravel road area next to his house as a restroom facility, and his wife, Mary Lou, is fed up with repairing her fence, where once she grew beautiful flowers.
“If they (the county) don’t have enough money, then they should come and fix our fences every time they get knocked down,” Mary Lou said.
Mary Lou Martinez said she has talked to county deputies, but they don’t have the staff to patrol the road on a daily basis.
“They say they don’t have deputies to patrol this area 24-seven,” Mary Lou said.
The Martinez family and neighbors live in an unincorporated area of the county. With school starting on Aug. 12, there’s also concern among the neighbors for children who wait for the school bus on Valencia Road, with one stop located near a dangerous curve just east of the Martinez house.
For now, Valencia Road residents say they hope something changes before a serious accident happens.