By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
A section of New Mexico Highway 206 between Portales and Dora is experiencing a significant deterioration of its pavement even though the highway was repaved less than a year ago.
Residents, who regularly drive the road, say a section near Portales has become progressively worse over the spring and summer. They said after grain trucks ran over the road during wheat harvest this spring, the road became rutted deeply.
A section of the northbound lane extending about two miles south of Portales and another portion a little further south have warning signs and the speed limit has been reduced to 50 mph because of the rough road and loose material.
“It’s horrible, it just bounces my little car around,” said Sheila Hays, who has a business in Portales and lives near Dora.
Hays said she had begun to worry her little car might bottom out on the ruts and damage its front end. She said road crews eventually bladed the tops of the ruts off, but that left loose material and a rough surface.
New Mexico Transportation Department project engineer Raymond Reeves, who was originally assigned to the project, said Tuesday officials are working on a solution.
“We know there’s a problem and we’re working with the contractor to come up with a solution,” Reeves said.
Reeves said NMDOT had issued a letter to the contractor, Brazier Construction, that corrective measures need to be taken. Reeves said District 2 Engineer Gary Shubert met with Brazier representatives and local crews Tuesday but didn’t know the meeting’s outcome because he is assigned to the Roswell area now. Shubert was unavailable Tuesday, according to NMDOT staff.
“It’s the same problem we had before,” Reeves said. “Basically, it’s just too much heat and too much oil.”
Last fall NMDOT and Brazier officials cited a mixture that had too much oil as the cause for having to redo a portion of the $1.5 million project that recycled the old highway material for a new road surface. It began in fall 2005 and was delayed repeatedly because of weather and lack of material.
At a meeting with residents and local legislators in August 2006, residents took NMDOT and Brazier to task for the delays and problems with the road surface.
“Every time they (NMDOT) do something else it gets worse,” Hays said Tuesday.
Reeves said the safety issues would be addressed, even if it was a short-term maintenance solution while awaiting a long-term fix.