ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico has a massive backlog of roadwork needs, from repaving to widening. Now, the state is waiting to see if the president’s massive infrastructure spending plan will pass, and how much money could be flowing into New Mexico. The state said it’s trying to play catch up on $3 billion of work that remains unfunded.
People across Albuquerque will be quick to admit many roads need a makeover. “I definitely have some friends come over and worried about parts of their cars breaking off because of potholes around,” Jared Ostrom of Albuquerque said about his Old Town neighborhood.
The White House’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework would devote more than $312 billion to improve the country’s transportation infrastructure, like roads and bridges, while creating jobs.
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New Mexico Department of Transportation Cabinet Secretary Michael Sandoval said that extra money from the feds could be used to help fast-track big projects. “Currently, we receive about $450 million for infrastructure and this could potentially give us anywhere from $80 to $100 million more per year,” Sandoval said.
NMDOT is currently evaluating the benefits of expanding I-40 to six lanes from Albuquerque to Gallup to help traffic flow whenever there’s construction or a crash. They’d also like to build better roads in the oil fields in Lea and Eddy counties.
“There’s some major projects up in the $2 million to $500 million range, and certainly over time, this new money would be able to help us get in place,” Sandoval said. “It’s kind of like a car, and the longer you ignore maintenance on a road, the bigger the cost to fix it at the end.”
House Minority Whip, Steve Scalise, this week said Republicans won’t support the president’s plan if it raises taxes. “There’s hundreds of billions of dollars of money that’s been unspent and many both on the senate and house side have identified those funds as a way to start paying for it,” the Louisiana Republican added.
National data shows New Mexico has 207 bridges and more than 3,800 miles of highway in poor condition, and that each driver pays about $800 a year in costs from driving on bad roads. Still, driving is the preferred option for many people.
The White House states it takes New Mexicans nearly twice as long to commute by public transportation. It’s unclear what the solution would be, but the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework would allocate more than $100 billion nationally to modernize public transit and invest in passenger and freight rail systems.
It’s unclear when Congress is set to vote on the $1.2 trillion plan.