NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee found the state’s gone backwards despite its push to improve state highways. The Department of Transportation’s Pavement Condition Rating found almost 24 percent of New Mexico highways are in poor shape, highlighting the deterioration of state roads from 2016 through 2020.
“Those are some of the things we have to live within New Mexico and realize that we can’t fix every single road every single year, but we’ve got to get more efficient at fixing the roads that we have and how quickly we can get them fixed,” said Senator George Munoz.
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The LFC report covers the push to get through a backlog of projects across interstates, U.S. highways, and state highways, which are all maintained by the state’s Department of Transportation. Senator Munoz, a member of the transportation committee, says many of the roadways experiencing deterioration are due to several factors including heavy truck traffic and extreme weather conditions, but even with construction going on, not everyone is happy.
“It’s just bad out there, it’s just bad they have patches everywhere, there’s holes everywhere. The sad thing is they fix one side and then the other side it’s just bad, and then they go to fix the other side, and then the other side goes bad,” said one Albuquerque driver.
The LFC report shows the department of transportation is losing ground when it comes to maintaining the highways. While insufficient funding and staffing are factors, the report points out there are hundreds of millions of dollars waiting to be spent on projects in the pipeline.
“The money has been set aside, but the time to bid the project and design and build is even longer. That’s where we run into time constraints and not completing projects,” said Munoz.
Senator Munoz says those bids on projects can take almost two years just to gain momentum. However, the state’s outlook on road improvements is promising. In the last year, the state got more road work done than it did before the pandemic.
The report also shows road quality varies greatly by region, With southeastern New Mexico scoring the worst, with about 28 percent of the highway miles in poor condition. The highways in McKinley, Cibola and Catron counties scored the best.