New Mexico

What's being done to prevent another fatal crash on Highway 285 and State Road 128?

LOVING, N.M. (KRQE) - U.S. 285 and State Road 128 from the Loving area to the Texas state line, are busy roads for oilfield workers.

All of the traffic has made them some of the most dangerous and deadliest highways in the state, with 11 fatalities in the past six months.

“You can't put a value on a life. I mean, for us, they could put $500 million and it wouldn't make a difference because we lost our son,” said Paulene and Joe Ponce.

Their son, 39-year-old Michael Ponce, was one of two men killed in a three-vehicle accident on US 285 on Feb. 18.

U.S. 285 and State Road 128 are getting busier by the day. 

“Now it is so bad, it’s just terrible,” said Arita Slate. 

State Police have taken action due to the high number of fatal accidents in the area. They have increased patrol and implemented a safety corridor, which means a traffic violation double the cost of a ticket.

KRQE News 13 asked State Police Captain Lance Bateman what the danger on these roads could be attributed to?

“A lot of it is inattention. Whether it be people falling asleep, texting and driving or just speed,” Bateman said. 

Video from KRQE News 13 viewers shows the standstill traffic on these roads and how drivers fly down the median in order to avoid the traffic.

The number of fatal crashes now has the state's attention. The New Mexico Department of Transportation held a meeting in Loving last week to get input on the $25 million the state has allocated to the area. DOT says that increasing patrol is step one.

“In addition, we have a project coming up which will help to add lanes and add shoulders to the road to make it safer,” said NMDOT Secretary Tom Church. 

Safer roads are something many people are happy to hear.

“I'm hoping for them, that they can get their highways and this area fixed so that it does minimize the loss of life,” Ponce said. 

It may be more than a year until changes are seen from NMDOT on U.S. 285. Their primary focus will be on fixing the area from mile marker 22 to the state line on U.S. 285.
 


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