Abiquiu Town Hall Answers Community Questions
Abiquiu – Rio Arriba County Commissioner Danny Garcia and top County administrators came together in Abiquiu Tuesday night for a town hall meeting to discuss community members concerns. Community members heard presentations from County Commissioner Garcia, Sherriff James Lujan, Deputy County Manager David Trujillo and others.
Many topics were discussed but the one that almost everyone in the room wanted to talk about was the arroyo crossing on County Road 155 which over the past three years has perpetually, backed up, washed out and caused flood damage to local properties.
Commissioner Garcia, Public Works Director Jon Paul Romero and Director of Public Works Napoleon Garcia went over recent studies that identified a 31 square mile basin which funnels water into the intersection that crosses county road 155. Romero stated ”The original engineers who built the arroyo crossing didn’t realize how much water could actually flow through this area. So they only put in 3 large culverts. That is causing a problem with these extraordinary flood events we’ve had during the past three years.”
The county revealed that they have begun the process of replacing the arroyo crossing with a new “Head Wall” system that has 15 times the water flow capacity of the old system. Construction is slated to begin in mid-July and be completed sometime in October.
Almost all community members were happy to hear about the counties plans for improving the road but had concerns about crossing that location prior to and during construction. County officials stated they planned to leave the culvert crossing in place until they complete the replacement crossing but community residents asked that the culverts be removed and low water crossing be put in its place for the time being. Several community members raised concerns that the culverts were causing flooding in the area, damaging property, and making it impossible to cross after the flood damage the road. Mike Hibner, a local resident explained that the road crossing as it is currently built causes water to back up and has flooded his property and almost flooded his home. In addition, residents were concerned about ensuring that fire truck and ambulance access was possible during those times.
Commissioner Garcia responded saying “we will get those culverts out. We will make a detour, but if the arroyo runs, don’t cross it.” Romero said they will begin removing the culverts starting sometime next week. Community members applauded the decision to pull the culverts.
Eric Martinez, a resident of the area and fire chief for the Abiquiu volunteer fire department suggested that between now and completion of the new Arroyo crossing that the county conduct more frequent maintenance operations on that stretch of road to ensure it is passable.
Michael Trujillo, a 60-year resident of the area said in an interview after the meeting that he was pleased with the directions of things. “We have some good county leaders, and they are trying to do the right thing.”
Towards the end of the meeting local residents also heard from Prescilla Serrano, sister of Isaac Morfin who disappeared in the Hopwell Lake area on May 4. State Police conducted search and rescue immediately following Morfin’s disappearance but discontinued efforts after several days. Since then Serrano and other family members continue to search the area every day. Serrano said “We are still searching because we know he is out there. We need to find him and find out what happened. Not knowing is the worst. All we want is closure.” Serrano asked community members and anyone interested in volunteering to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More on this continued search soon.