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Measure to close part of Eddy County road dies

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Eddy County Commission chairperson Stella Davis talks shop with District 1 Eddy County Commissioner James Walterscheid at the commissioners' Oct. 3 meeting in Carlsbad. (Mike Smith Photo)

CARLSBAD — On Tuesday, the Eddy County Commission was asked to close a portion of Roberson Road near Loving.

A public hearing was held during Tuesday’s county commission meeting on behalf of CIG Logistics and Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC to close the northbound portion of U.S. Route 285 and the Roberson intersection.

County records said that the intersection would have an increasing amount of rail traffic as the CIG facility comes on line. Staff was recommending a temporary closure with a review and reconsideration in one year.

It was estimated that the railroad crossing at that intersection would be closed up to 64 times a day.

Most on the commission expressed concern.

“(The) intersection would be shutdown for 10 hours a day,” said District 1 Commissioner James Walterscheid. “I’ve never seen anything like this where you have a bunch of trains go by.”

“The reason we’re closing this is a safety factor,” said District 3 Commissioner Larry Wood.

Walterscheid also expressed concerns about a traffic study that was conducted in June as kids from that area attend classes in the Loving Municipal Schools.

“Traffic counts are a snapshot in time,” he said.

He was reminded by Debra Hicks, president and CEO of Pettigrew and Associates from Hobbs, that the study was done in May and the data was released in June.

Commissioners heard from citizens living in that area. Elena Carrasco said most living in that area weren’t aware of what was taking place. She talked about her father-in-law traveling on Roberson three to five times a day to feed his cattle.

“You need to go out there and look at it,” she said. “He has to have access to that road.”

Carrasco also presented the commission with a petition signed by nearly 70 people opposing the closure.

Once comments ended, the commission was asked to take action. The measure died due to the lack of a motion and a second.

For now, the intersection is closed, according to assistant Eddy County Manager Kenny Rayroux. He said it will be closed for the next six to eight weeks so CIG can put their rail lines in. Once that is done, the road will reopen.

Also during the meeting last week, the commission dealt with another traffic item. This one had support from county members.

A request had been made for an intersection light at State Road 200 and U.S. 285. Rayroux told commissioners the New Mexico Department of Transportation is responsible for the full construction.

The county would be responsible for the electric bill, which is estimated to be around $150 a month, and the county will be required to perform maintenance work.

Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage cited a problem of dead deer in that area.

“That area is very dark,” Cage said. “I’m in full support of this as a public safety measure.”

General assignment reporter Mike Smith can be reached 575-622-7710, ext.307, or at sports2@rdrnews.com.