ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Department of Transportation is pleading with state lawmakers for more money, and some NMDOT engineers are laying out how inflation is affecting road projects in the pipeline and what it’s doing to a backlog of projects. A year ago, NMDOT’s project to redo the Comanche to Montgomery corridor was $100 million, today, that price tag has doubled.
“That is just the reality that we are staying at when these projects were prioritized by the agency and by the legislature a few sessions ago,” said one NMDOT official. Officials for NMDOT say they are looking for additional funding to help cover the costs of about nine projects in district three, which covers the Albuquerque area. “Engineers’ estimates for those projects are $880 million, and the funding that we’re looking at is $614 million.”
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With the department’s top priority to redo I-25 from Comanche to Montgomery, the cost to build new interchanges and rework the frontage roads on that stretch has doubled to $200 million over the past year cost have increased. “Construction costs were at a reasonable range that we felt comfortable we could get these projects out the door with what our appropriations were in planning, but obviously things have changed, and we are looking at significant gaps for priorities we have in the state.”
The state was already looking for more money to play catchup on a backlog of road projects. “Where the big increase is, I believe, is in equipment, man and fuel costs; those are where we are seeing the big cost escalation in our standard roadway projects.”
Soaring costs have added another $20 million to the price tag for an I-25 Gibson makeover. While there’s federal stimulus money and another budget surplus for the state on the horizon, DOT engineers know it will never be enough. “The need always outweighs the type of level of funding that we have.”
The DOT hopes to land a $100 million grant from the feds to cover the rising costs for the Comanche to Montgomery work. Construction could start next spring and then run for a couple of years. The Gibson interchange would come after that. Other priorities in the Albuquerque area include a new Los Lunas interchange and making more headway on the Paseo Del Volcan Loop.