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NM gets increased funding for roads

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[Note: This post has been updated to change information regarding the amount of funding available in the state and the closing date for grant applications.]

New Mexico has been allotted about $5 million more than in previous years through a federal grant program that helps pay for improvements to roads, bridges or trails into or near federal properties, and area governmental entities are being encouraged to apply for funding.

Laurie Miskimins, transportation planner with the Federal Highway Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, talked about the grant program at the Thursday morning meeting of the Southeast Regional Transportation Planning Organization in Roswell.

She said New Mexico has been given up to $8.1 million for fiscal year 2018 through the Federal Lands Access Program, which nationwide receives between $250 million to $270 million each year. FLAP is meant to help local entities maintain and improve access to national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, tribal schools and other federal properties that attract visitors.

In addition to administering the fund, the Federal Highways Administration also handles the planning, design, engineering and construction for most of the projects, Miskimins said.

The program requires matching funds, which, in New Mexico amounts to 14.56 percent of the project. The evaluation committee prefers cash for the match, she said, but also considers in-kind services or labor. Phased projects are also considered.

Applications will be accepted starting Tuesday until Jan. 15. A short list of projects considered for funding is expected to be announced by April.

According to information posted online by the FLAP program, FY 16 and FY 17 programs in New Mexico include improvements to trails and roads in Santa Fe and Bernalillo. Miskimins also mentioned several current or former projects in the state in recent years.

More information is available on the Federal Lands Highway page of the Department of Transportation website, flh.fhwa.dot.gov, or by contacting Miskimins at laurie.miskimins@dot.gov. Two webinars in October are also planned to provide information and answer questions for potential applicants.