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Area company among contractors for major highway project

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Gov. Susana Martinez, center, says the U.S. 82 highway improvement project near Artesia is a funding priority because it serves as one of the foundations for commerce in the state. She participated in the June 21 groundbreaking near Artesia for the $58 million construction project, one of the largest currently being overseen by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. (Submitted Photo)

The $58 million Artesia highway project announced last week will mean work for 20 companies, including a subcontractor in eastern New Mexico, a project engineer said.

Fisher Sand and Gravel of New Mexico, based in Placitas, is the prime contractor on the U.S. 82 upgrade project.
“There are over 20 companies that will benefit from this project,” said Frank Lozano. “Most are subcontractors, but some are suppliers.”
He also said that the company expects to add some local workers for the project, although he did not give details.
The work involves improving, and in some areas, expanding 32 miles of the highway from East Seventh Street in Artesia to the junction at State Highway 529, not too far from Maljamar in Eddy County.
Fisher Sand’s three major subcontractors include Constructors Inc., which has offices in Roswell, Hobbs and Carlsbad; Hasse Contracting Company of Albuquerque; and E2RC, an environmental engineering firm based in Bernalillo handling stormwater pollution prevention.
Fisher Sand, operating in the state since about 1999, is part of a larger group of companies working in seven states.
Lozano said his company already has some surveyors and other workers on site, and actual construction work is expected to ramp up within a few weeks.
The project, launched with a June 21 groundbreaking attended by Gov. Susana Martinez and other officials, is expected to take until winter 2019.
The work will include milling and overlaying existing roadway, reconstructing portions of the road, widening lanes, widening shoulders and creating turn lanes. In some areas, the two-lane highway will be expanded to a four-lane highway.
The road is heavily trafficked, with a daily average traffic count of about 6,000 in the Artesia area, 4,801 of those vehicles being either heavy trucks or work trucks, according to information from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Residents of the area complained about fatal and serious vehicle accidents, leading them to call on legislators and state officials for highway improvements. According to the state Transportation Department, the road from Artesia to state 529 had 102 accidents from 2010 to 2013, most involving turns at intersections.
The state will pay for about $20 million of the project, according to New Mexico Transportation Department staff, with the federal government covering the rest of the cost.
The second phase involves upgrading U.S. 82 from State Highway 529 to Lovington — which is also about 32 miles — and is expected to cost about the same as phase one.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.