## Portions of the Turquoise Trail--Lost! ##

--Examples of wide, inappropriate arterial design upon scenic rural collectors--

Plus--An introduction to "Context Sensitive Design" (CSD)

--Link to examples of more appropriate designs under development--

--Asphalt fails as erosion control, whereas vegetation along scenic roads is in context --


Images "before and after" road widening for subdivision turnouts

     Beautiful, intimate sections of the National Scenic Byway, the Turquoise Trail (NM 14) have lately been lost to overbuilt turnouts constructed for new subdivisions. Although new turnouts may be needed, in the Turquoise Trail instance, an asphalt band that reaches nearly 90 feet wide and half a mile long has been built for the Campbell Corporation's San Pedro Overlook. This new turnout extends pavement that was only about 24 feet wide and significantly changes the character of this section of the National Scenic Byway. Additionally, similar wide turnouts are being built for Roger Cox & Associates' "Paa-Ko" development, which also is on the Turquoise Trail.

--Turnouts, before and after--

Campbell Corporation's "San Pedro Overlook", View South (Left image "Before"-- Right image "After")   

Campbell Corporation's "San Pedro Overlook", View North (images "Before & After")   

Photos, © 2002, 2003 by Ross Lockridge

     Are arterial width maximized constant flow designs appropriate or even safe on "rural collector" roads such as the Turquoise Trail? New research suggests not. Yet sadly, the over-reaching development on the Scenic Byway goes on. By December of 2002, as if trying to catch up with the Overlook's arterial design dimensions, similar dimensions were under preparation for pavement now spread along an entrance to the Roger Cox & Associates "Paa-Ko" developments. Next image has San Pedro Overlook dimensions listed:

San Pedro Overlook is Overdone

A National Scenic Byway is replaced by a NM State "maintenance" highway

San Pedro Overlook pullout completed--View: Northbound--Photo, November 3, 2002

Dimensions of the Overlook constructed entry

--Paved width is approximately 88 feet.
--Total width to bottom of ditches (NOT counting the up-slope cuts) is approximately 104 feet.
--Length of the Turquoise Trail this turn-out occupies is 4/10th of a mile, to just under half a mile.

     Dimensions of components -- Cross section dimensions just south of the entry, from the left to the right side (or guardrail side & point of photo):

     Left to right: Ditch slope 7'; paved shoulder 7'7"; turn-out lane from Overlook southbound 10'8"; southbound lane 11'6"; center strips 1'6"; turn-in lane northbound 11'; north bound lane 12' 5"; paved shoulder to front edge of guardrail 8'; pavement under guardrail from front to curb 3'; width of curb 7"; ditch slope 8 to 9'.

What is Context Sensitive Design?

An excerpt from: "Designing Roads with Communities--Context Sensitive Design for Highways"

     Produced by the Surface Transportation Policy Project (STPP New Mexico) with the Cultural Landscapes/Flexible Highway Standards Team of the NM Transportation Initiative

Joanne McEntire, AICP, October 2002

When building or improving highways, Context Sensitive Design (CSD) is "an approach that places preservation of historic, scenic, natural environment, and other community values on an equal basis with mobility, safety and economics," according to Federal Highway Administrator Mary Peters. Attention is paid to the places that a highway goes through by putting greater emphasis on the needs and values of the community during all phases of the project. A process that involves the community is likely to lead to a better road project because it reflects the context, or environment, in which it is located.

Context Sensitive Design has become a normal mode of operation in a few state Departments of Transportation (DOT). In 1999, the Federal Highway Works Administration (FHWA) supported a pilot project to define and practice CSD with five states: Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, and Utah. Research indicates that the states trained their staff, consultants, stakeholders, local government workers and other related groups on utilizing a flexible approach towards the design of highway projects within three a year period. This effort has led to a movement called "Thinking Beyond the Pavement."

Sensitivity toward place-and the people within a place-became acceptable following the adoption of ISTEA (the Intermodal Surface Transportation Equity Act) and the National Highway System Designation Act, along with US Code, Title 23, 109 Standards. The federal government recognized that the surrounding environment and community aspects could be taken into account in new construction and reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration or rehabilitation of highways. In addition, access to other modes of transportation was acknowledged as a factor that could be considered. Vastly improved projects could be attained by enhancing the process; communication with the general public is "open, early, and continuous" (see Thinking Beyond the Pavement box).

The environmental context of a highway may be a congested urban district, a rural town, or an open landscape of farms, ranches or forest lands. A highway project may involve local governments as well as the DOT's local district. Wherever it is located, flexibility in the project's design can be utilized, and local communities and stakeholders should have opportunities to participate in the entire process.


 Context Sensitive Design for the Turquoise Trail?

     For the Turquoise Trail, reconstruction designs are under development that, if successful, might help set a good precedent for other NM rural collectors. Prior to the Paa-Ko and Overlook developments, citizens along northern stretches of the Byway in Madrid, Los Cerrillos and San Marcos area have, with limited success, been pressing the New Mexico Department of Transportation to take context -- the neighborhood communities, the glorious beauty of this intimate road, and the calming effects of the immediate vegetated landscape on drivers' minds -- into consideration whenever the road is repaired or rebuilt. See details: NM 14 CAC / NMSHTD (Draft) 'Record of Agreement' (April 24, 2002). See update: New as of Dec. 2003: Proposed Dimensions.


--Asphalt failure--

     On rural and scenic roads, the NM transportation department should commit to using vegetation rather than asphalt for roadside erosion control including areas of guardrail as well as tapers. In the above image, the curb behind the rail will hinder the return of needed vegetation. Besides, as shown below, asphalt is not maintenance free. To: consultant, Donal Simpson, on this inappropriate method of guardrail installation.

Photo, NM 285 at El Dorado, March 8, 2002

     Plant life, rather than asphalt, is the better and more appropriate alternative for the prevention of erosion on scenic and rural roads. Vegetation, once established, can be the more permanent solution to this problem even in arid climates. To aid in getting vegetation established, the use of "cellular-containment fabric" is a proven method. It is a filter-fabric forming small vertical chambers or cells for soil retention. Even through dry periods, the soil, with the aid of the fabric, is held in place, giving the vegetation the time needed to take root. Once plant life (usually selected native grass and flower seed) takes hold, unlike asphalt, plants do not eventually crack, and add to the problem of erosion with petroleum based polluting debris. (To: more context in-sensitive examples in New Mexico)

To: "Portions of the Turquoise Trail--LOST", an article,
1000 Friends, click "Publications", Nuestro Pueblo's Spring 2003 issue, p 12.

To: Paa-Ko goes arterial!

To: Other NM Context In-sensitive examples


To: The Turquoise Trail Page

To: Billy the Kid Trail (U.S. 70)--threatened NM National Scenic Byway

To: Resources for Saving America's Rural Roads and Communities--a listing


Unless otherwise noted, the comments and opinions here are those of Ross Lockridge, member of Citizens Advisory Committee for the Turquoise Trail of NM.

Page managed by RIII

Page last updated: Sept., 2003