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City officials push for Highway 380 upgrades

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Louis Najar, director of engineering and infrastructure for the city of Roswell, speaks to the Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee Wednesday in the Bassett Auditorium in the Roswell Museum & Art Center. (Alex Ross Photo)

Louis Najar, director of engineering and infrastructure for the city of Roswell, told state lawmakers Wednesday he agrees with Mayor Dennis Kintigh’s suggestion the state explore making a section of U.S. Highway 380 into a four-lane highway.

Najar spoke to legislators on the Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee Wednesday in the Bassett Auditorium at the Roswell Museum & Art Center, where the subcommittee convened for the last of two days of meetings.

He said heavy use by commuters and the state’s large surplus make now the right time to start on the project.

“It’s needed, it’s time,” Najar said.

Kintigh told the subcommittee Tuesday that the section of U.S. Highway 380 that runs east of Roswell to Texas should be increased from two to four lanes to increase safety on a roadway that has seen large amounts of traffic.

Najar told legislators vehicles that would normally travel along I-40 will use 380 during the winter to avoid snow and icy conditions. He added that families, people coming from parts of Texas and buses carrying sports teams from Hobbs and Lovington are using 380 as a safety detour and as an alternative to routes that run through the oil patch.

Following the meeting, state Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs, said she does not know if conditions necessitate two additional lanes, though she said U.S. 380 does need to have significant passing lanes installed to accommodate the high volume of traffic.

Conditions along 380 are so treacherous, Kernan said, she avoids driving on it.

“To me it’s just not worth the stress, always worried that someone is going to pass you when they shouldn’t,” she said.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.