Editorial: Smooth better, even on roads less traveled

While we limited-government proponents believe individuals are negatively impacted by Big Brother on many fronts, even many libertarians recognize there is a role for government in completing some necessary projects.

Count us among the less-government advocates applauding taxpayer-funded road construction scheduled to begin in 2014 between Prince and Norris Streets on U.S 60-70-84 in Clovis. Details of the plan have not been announced, but there is no doubt a less-bumpy ride will be welcome.

As much as we'd like to see private companies build our streets and highways, the reality is it would be as complicated as it would be costly. Improving residential streets, for example, would be cost prohibitive for many working-class people.

And how would road owners keep non-payers off privately built streets connecting homes to grocery stores to churches, schools and manufacturing plants?

State officials estimate complete reconstruction of this stretch of highway will be $3 million to $5 million a mile, depending on the need for curbs, gutters, lighting, utility relocation to go along with the roadwork. Even a basic overlay of 2-3 inches of asphalt costs about $1 million a mile, Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said, if the street doesn't need widened or have any drainage issues.

A road overlay generally is redone every 10 to 15 years, Thomas said, with complete reconstruction good for 20 to 25 years without an extended amount of extreme weather.

A large portion of government budgets in eastern New Mexico and elsewhere in the U.S. goes to street and road construction, maintenance and repair.

In Clovis, Thomas said, $12.8 million of its $61.8 million budget this year will be spent on streets.

Roosevelt County devotes $2 million of its $10 million annual budget to roads, County Manager Charlene Webb said.

As bad as our area roadways are, and with the growth in truck and auto traffic, we wonder if the percentages should be higher.

"Roads, roads, and … roads," Webb said when we asked her for three topics that generate the most complaints to her office.

Thomas said only weed and trash issues compare to the complaints he hears about Clovis' streets.

Most cities and counties in every state seldom fund a road project fully. In New Mexico, the state often covers about 75 percent of the cost, with much of its funding coming from taxes we pay to the federal government.

We'd like to see government stay out of the health care business, the "quality of life" business and just about every other aspect of life that the private sector can handle without any oversight from those who think they know best.

But on the matter of city streets, county and state roads, we're happy to pool our money to help ensure everyone has safe, comfortable travels to and from our homes, businesses and recreational areas.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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