ELEPHANT BUTTE, N.M. (KRQE) – A project five years in the making started just last month, and it’s going to benefit visitors and residents, officials said.

“I have worked here for the better part of 23 years, and every monsoon, season we are fixing the road in some capacity,” Elephant Butte State Park Superintendent Chris Bolen said.

A main roadway in Elephant Butte is finally getting a major upgrade.

Lakeshore Drive is the access to the entire north end of the park which houses a campground, Rock Canyon, a popular boat launch, and a way to a neighborhood. However, that roadway has been plagued for years by flooding, sometimes becoming completely washed out. These issues can leave visitors and residents stuck.

“We would have to come out and remove any sand or debris out of the road and make emergency repairs, basically putting Band-Aids on what started out as a dirt road, now kind of a half-paved road,” Bolen said.

On Monday, a long-term fix was initiated.

Several state and federal agencies have come together to redo the roadway, replace the culverts, and add a couple of bridges to make Lakeshore Drive easier and safer to ride.

More than $18 million is going into the restoration project, which was facing troubles due to funding and COVID-19.

“This is kind of making good on a promise that we’ve been making to the folks that use the park in Sierra County and the residents that use this road, that we’re working toward a solution,” Bolen said.

Crews will create bypasses for drivers to use in the meantime. They’re hoping to have everything done by the spring of 2025.