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County to start work on major infrastructure project

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Phase I of the county’s East Hobson Road improvement project is expected to start soon and will involve raising two intersections and installing culverts. Graves Road will be the first intersection to be closed for construction. Hummingbird Lane will follow. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

Vehicles traveling along Hobson Road will be making some minor detours in coming months as Chaves County begins work soon on one of its top infrastructure priorities, rebuilding sections of East Hobson Road to prevent flooding.

For several years, the county has been planning for and doing some work on a $4.5 million, multi-phase project to improve East Hobson Road from U.S. 285 to Menominee Road.

That portion of Hobson can “become like a river” during heavy rains, said Bill Williams, Chaves County Public Services Director. He said the road is not only impassable at times but also that flooding makes maintaining the road difficult and costly.

Since 2016, the county has spent about $400,000 working with a Roswell firm, Stantech Engineering, to complete a drainage study to determine exactly how water was flowing off of 285 and how to develop a plan to prevent flooding.

As the county waited for state funding to begin the major road improvements needed, the Road Department and the Chaves County Flood District worked together to build a drainage pond on city of Roswell land near Hobson Road and the railroad tracks that will be needed for phase two of the project.

Now, having received legislative appropriations in 2018, the county is ready to proceed with the $575,000 first phase.

“We are going to raise the intersections at Hummingbird and Hobson and Graves and Hobson and …. install some culverts and some additional features to allow the water to drain away from Hobson Road rather than continuing to gather water,” Williams said.

Once the intersections and culverts are finished, the county will repair the road bed and overlay it with new asphalt.

Constructors Inc., which has crews and offices in Carlsbad and Roswell, received the bid for the project, which is expected to take three months.

Williams said the intersection at Graves Road will close first, to be followed by the Hummingbird Lane closure.

‘“We tried to time it during non-peak periods,” Williams said.

He explained that county staff felt it was best to do the work before the fall, the busy time for agricultural producers and agribusinesses that often use the road.

The public should see some improvement after the intersection work is done, but the county also plans to move within a year or so on phase two, estimated to cost about $600,000.

“We will put in culverts to take off water of the section of Hobson Road between 285 and the Old Dexter Highway and it will divert into the pond…. And it will hold the water during those big flood events and then allow it to come out slowly.”

If the legislature provides money during the 2019 legislative session, bids would go out in late 2019 and work would begin in early 2020.

Ultimately the county plans to rebuild and apply new asphalt to the entire 5.6 miles of road from 285 to Menominee Road, Williams said, and do some other work prescribed by the engineering plan.

Williams said that the public should find any inconvenience to be worth it. 

“It is going to be a big advance in Hobson Road when we get done,” he said.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.