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State considers ‘safety corridor’ designation

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Because of high volumes of traffic and crashes on New Mexico Route 128 between Jal and Loving, the state Department of Transportation is considering a proposal by lawmakers in southeastern New Mexico to designate the area a safety corridor.

At a meeting of the Transportation Infrastructure Revenue Subcommittee in Roswell Tuesday, state Rep. Phelps Anderson, R-Roswell, asked Michael Sandoval, New Mexico Secretary of Transportation, whether he thought the designation would be a good idea. The designation would mean a reduced speed limit and increased fines for those who fail to obey the speed limit in the affected area.

Sandoval said the suggestion has merit.

“We are looking into that right now,” he told lawmakers at the meeting.

Sandoval said the department is examining the statistics and hopes to have some movement on the designation when the New Mexico Transportation Commission meets in October for their next meeting.

The stretch of 128 has seen about five fatalities in five weeks, Anderson said at the meeting.

Anderson, along with fellow state Reps. David Gallegos, R-Eunice, and Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, sent a letter to Timothy Parker, engineer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation District 2, which includes southeast Roswell, requesting the designation.

The letter states the ongoing spike in oil production in the Permian Basin has resulted in more commercial vehicles utilizing the state’s roads and highways, causing extensive damage and contributing to a growing number of fatalities and serious injuries.

“By focusing additional law enforcement resources to this specific segment of highway, as well as extra fines, which can be levied for traffic violations, the safety corridor designation will encourage drivers to slow down and obey all traffic laws,” the letters states.

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