Increased construction costs of New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT) projects prompted changes to a long term improvement plan, said a DOT spokesperson.
Manon Arnett, DOT District 2 spokesperson from Roswell, said federal and state funds were reallocated to projects based on updated engineer’s estimates and funding awarded through the 2021 New Mexico Legislative Session.
“So DOT will bond some funding to complete priority projects. The amount received from House Bill 2 for District 2 is $28 million and bond fund amount is $34 million. This funding is in addition to the District 2 annual allocation of around $30 million,” she said.
Arnett said DOT amended a portion of the Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP) from 2020 through 2025 on May 17 and amendments consisted of funding updates, fiscal year changes and addition and deletion of projects.
DOT had 42 statewide projects in the current amendment and eight projects are in District 2, she indicated.
DOT District 2 Engineer Francisco Sanchez said the STIP is a roadmap for DOT.
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“Anytime we make amendments to our STIP, we have to amend it and let the public know what we’re doing,” Sanchez said.
“A lot of the amendments are due to the influx of state appropriation money and upcoming bonding authority that NMDOT received. With that money we’re kind of rearranging the STIP.”
DOT welcomed public review and comments on proposed highway, street and road projects across New Mexico. Comment was sought until June 18 at the DOT’s STIP website.
Sanchez said work on U.S. 82 east of Artesia and U.S. 285 were some of the Eddy County STIP projects.
He said the U.S. 82 project from Artesia to New Mexico State Road 529 took time due utility issues.
“We’re just happy that it’s finally getting finished. We know the importance it has in this area. For me as a district engineer, it gives me a new start. Because that was the work that was done under the previous district engineer (Tim Parker),” Sanchez said.
Carlsbad Southeast Loop part of STIP
Phase one work on the Southeast Loop Safety Improvement Project started nearly seven weeks ago, said Eddy County Community Services Director Wesley Hooper.
Funding for the project falls during a five-year STIP cycle from 2022 through 2027, according to DOT’s website.
“Phase one is from the intersection at (the) George Shoup (Relief Route) and U.S. 62/180 running directly south and that’s all brand-new construction. There was never a road that was there,” Hooper said.
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Once completed, the new road should intersect with Old Refinery Road, he said.
“There’s about a mile south of Old Refinery, where we’re upgrading, widening and going from chip seal to pavement and making the drainage better,” Hooper said.
Scheduled completion of phase one is Aug. 28. He said construction dealt with gas and water line issues.
Hooper said a deadline extension was possible due to movement of both lines.
He said money for phase two work was secured. Eddy County sought money for phase’s three and four.
“We’re applying for a grant right now through DOT for $6 million for phase three and they’ll award that grant in August,” Hooper said.
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Once construction ends sometime in 2022, final cost could hit around $30 million, he said.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said DOT supported Eddy County in past years and upcoming improvements were appreciated.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.