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Bridge project extended to Oct. 16

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Work continues Tuesday morning on the North Garden Avenue bridge. A $228,299 change order approved by the Roswell City Council last week for a water line replacement south of the bridge will extend the project until mid-October. (Juno Ogle Photo)

The now almost 9-month long North Garden Avenue bridge project is going to last just a little bit longer.

A $228,299 change order to the project approved by the Roswell City Council on Thursday will essentially extend the work another half-block to the south for a necessary water line repair, moving the completion date to Oct. 16, City Engineer Louis Najar said Monday.

“We apologize for the inconvenience. It’s utility problems, nothing new,” Najar said. “We’re just trying to address it in the most cost-effective method that we can.”

“Utility problems are a common occurrence, especially in Roswell. Like any other place in the nation, it’s old stuff,” he said.

The road was closed on Jan. 27 from Cherry Street to Petro Drive and the work scheduled to be completed around the beginning of July. However, the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic and state health orders to close down most businesses and activities in March delayed its completion to the end of September.

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The 1960s-era bridge south of Petro Drive over the Spring River had been found to be structurally deficient and needed to be replaced. Najar said it’s not unusual for a large project to run into problems during construction, but the river itself provided some difficulties.

“What people don’t realize is this project required taking down the old bridge down to the river bed. It’s the Spring River for a reason — the water kept coming up. Water destabilizes the riverbed foundation,” he said.

The water department has completed a repair to the 6-inch water line just south of the bridge.

“They’ve dug up another 300 feet of roadway, put water lines on both sides, plus crossings,” he said.

Normally, the areas dug up would just be “patched,” but Najar brought to the Finance Committee and then the full City Council an option to repair the full width of the road.

The patch option was estimated at $156,549 and would have been paid from an annual maintenance fund.

The city Engineering Department’s recommendation was to go ahead and redo the pavement in that section to its full depth, essentially extending the bridge project, Najar said. Broken curb and guttering in that section will also be repaired.

“If you’re looking at it from cost efficiency, do you do a patch, or for another $70,000 do you extend the project and do a better job?” Najar said.

A portion of North Garden Avenue could be closed again in about a year, if funding is approved by the New Mexico Legislature to replace a second bridge near the entrance to Roswell Livestock Auction Sales. The Roswell City Council placed that $750,000 project on its 2022-26 Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan on Sept. 3.

“We would replace that bridge and redo the road from Cherry Street and tie in where we left off on this project,” Najar said.

If the Legislature approves the project for capital funding, it would likely be fall 2021 before the money is received and contracts are approved, he said.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575- 622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.