Construction on four-mile stretch of N.M. 88 begins Thursday

By Jared Tucker: PNT staff writer

Beginning Thursday, crews from the New Mexico Department of Transportation will begin reconstruction on a four-mile stretch of N.M. 88 between Arch and Portales.

Residents in Arch have been pushing for the total reconstruction of N.M. 88 for several years, calling the road’s current condition a safety hazard.

Residents say since N.M. 88 has more traffic now then originally intended, the road can no longer sustain heavy dairy and tractor-trailer traffic they say is tearing up the road.

The four-mile improvement is being paid for by federal stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Roosevelt County applied for the funds through the Southeast Regional Planning Organization, said County Manager Charlene Hardin. Hardin says the county received a small amount of money for the improvements, and that’s why only four miles of N.M. 88 are being improved.

The project, which will cost approximately $1.4 million, consists of a three-inch overlay, shoulder widening, culvert extensions, traffic control, pavement markings, and other miscellaneous construction, according to NMDOT Public Information Officer Manon Arnett.

Improvements will happen between mile markers six and 10.

Arch resident Shawna Neece has led the effort to improve N.M. 88, and has rallied support from her community.

Neece also gained support from state senators as well. In a letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught in October 2007, Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, encouraged support of the improvement of N.M. 88.

Kernan wrote, “The safety of the citizens and the future of economic development depend on including Arch Road in STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan).”

The original plan for improving N.M. 88 was to pave the entire highway, using STIP funds. The plan failed when Roosevelt County couldn’t come up with the $1.2 million match for the $20 Million STIP grant, according to Neece.

“They told me it would wipe out the county’s reserve funds”, Neece said.

Construction will last approximately two months, according to the NMDOT. During this time, drivers can expect short delays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Drivers or residents in the area can call the New Mexico Department of Transportation if they have any questions or comments.

Information: Richard Gonzales, project manager, at 356-0047 or Manon Arnett, NMDOT public information officer at 637-7200.