Responding to concerns from a few residents, Chaves County staff and elected officials have decided to make fixing a Brasher Road bridge a priority in the coming years.
The project has been added to the top 10 projects of the 2021-2025 Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP), approved by the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.
Director of Public Service Bill Williams said that the county routinely evaluates bridges to determine what repairs might be needed. He said the West Brasher Road bridge, just east of South Eisenhower Road, presents no “imminent dangers,” but that its maintenance became a top priority for the county after some residents in the area brought it to officials’ attention in April during public hearings when a new cement plant, Chance Materials, was approved for operations nearby.
The county’s decision was “very much in response to the public’s concern,” Williams said. “It would not have risen to the top of our priorities just because of the deficiencies noted by the (New Mexico) Department of Transportation, but because neighbors brought it to our attention — and with the addition of the truck traffic and the tendency of people to veer to the center to the road because the width is so narrow — we appreciate the people bringing it to our attention so we could address it sooner than we otherwise would have.”
The Department of Transportation evaluates all the state’s bridges on a regular basis. The Brasher Road bridge has only minor deficiencies, Williams said.
The project has been estimated to cost $850,000, because the county has determined that it would be more cost-effective and worthwhile to replace the entire bridge than to repair and widen the existing structure.
Whether the county can begin work on the project during the 2021 fiscal year, starting July 2020, would depend on funding.
“We are hoping that we could get multiple funding sources, including county funds,” said Williams. “That’s a big expense for a single bridge.”
State funding through the capital outlay process is also a possibility.
The ICIP list is required to be approved by elected officials each fall. To be eligible for state funding from the New Mexico Legislature, projects must be on the list. The list — which changes frequently over time as needs arise and priorities change — currently has about 68 projects on it for various county departments, volunteer fire departments and the nonprofits for which the county serves as a fiscal agent.
Other current top 10 priorities through 2025 include $1.56 million more to continue funding radio upgrades for emergency communications ($1.39 million has been funded already); a $480,000 project to improve security at the Chaves County Courthouse; $200,000 for the chiller towers at the courthouse; $1.04 million for repavement of West Berrendo Road; an additional $200,000 to create a fitness walking trail and water retention pond near the Chaves County Administrative Center ($150,000 in state funding has been provided); $350,000 for Pecos Valley dispatch and emergency communications; $1.18 million for sheriff’s vehicles (or $235,000 a year); $125,000 for a cooling tower for the Administrative Center; and $836,000 for realignment of Hobson Road near U.S. 285.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.