Chaves County now has the funds to replace a small and narrow bridge on West Brasher Road near the city landfill that residents have complained about for a few years.
The county has received a grant from the Transportation Fund Program of the New Mexico Department of Transportation that will provide $1,187,500 of state money and requires $62,500 in matching funds from the county.
County commissioners voted 5-0 during a Thursday morning meeting at the Chaves County Administrative Center to accept the grant, with County Manager Bill Williams indicating that the match is much lower than what is often required from government grants.
That funding will be added to the $500,000 provided the county by state legislators and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham by a 2022 capital outlay award.
Williams said that the county has been working “aggressively” to obtain the needed funding for more than four years after hearing from the community about their concerns.
“When we started out with this project, we had a price that was considerably lower. As time has gone on, everything has gone up drastically,” Williams said. “We were very excited that we were fully funded.”
Citizen complaints to county officials included those made in April 2019 at a Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission meeting held to consider plans by a concrete company to open a new plant in the 3100 block of West Brasher Road, not too far from the bridge. The bridge is also near South Eisenhower Road, where a number of the people making comments lived.
The cement company was allowed to open after a few meetings to consider the matter, but county officials heeded citizens' concerns and made the bridge replacement one of its top capital improvement priorities during an August meeting.
Some people said that the bridge was too narrow for two-way traffic involving large trucks, with the narrowness often causing drivers to veer toward the center or over the center traffic dividing line. The bridge also has a slight incline to it, which some people said makes it difficult to see if traffic is coming from the other side. Other people worried that the bridge isn't strong enough to handle years of heavy truck traffic.
Regular inspections by the state Department of Transportation and county employees over the years found only “minor deficiencies,” Williams has said.
Roads Department Operations Director Joe West, who worked to obtain the grant, said that the bridge is in the design phase now.
He said that one meeting has occurred with the engineer and that the plan is to complete the design and then ensure that all the materials and equipment needed are available in the county before starting construction so that the area will not be under construction for a long time.
He said that the county would like to start construction by the end of 2022.
Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at email@example.com.