NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – There is $3 billion worth of work to be done on some of New Mexico’s busiest roads but not enough money to do it all. The state released its annual TRIP report which shows a lot of roads in New Mexico are in need of some major TLC.
“These are projects that would improve safety on the state’s transportation system. To relieve traffic congestion, or expand mobility to help support economic development opportunities,” said Rocky Moretti of TRIP.
Some of those projects include design and reconstruction along I-40 west between Cubero and the border, all of that is expected to cost about $96 million. On top of that, a dangerous stretch of Highway 550 between Cuba and Bloomfield, needs a centerline wall barrier. KRQE News 13 has reported on multiple fatal crashes along that stretch of highway often caused by drivers crossing that center line, that barrier will cost nearly $57 million.
Lawmakers in southwest New Mexico say the I-10 corridor needs reconstruction and upgrades to infrastructure and design standards. “That is a major highway used for interstate commerce, but also for people’s daily transportation, it needs repair and it’s pretty urgent,” said Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-District 1).
The I-10 project is anticipated to cost about $850 million. The report also finds 32% of state roads are in poor condition. In the Albuquerque-area alone, they estimate the average driver spends about $2,447 a year on car maintenance due to rough roads and wasted gas due to congestion.
According to the report, 40% of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Albuquerque urban area are in poor condition and another 20% are in mediocre condition. Also in the Albuquerque area, 2% of bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, with significant deterioration to the bridge deck, supports, or other major components, and statewide, 5% of New Mexico’s bridges are rated poor/structurally deficient, and 57% are rated in fair condition according to the TRIP report.
According to the report, 1,894 people died in traffic crashes in New Mexico from 2015 to 2019 and the state’s overall traffic fatality rate of 1.53 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles of travel in 2019 is the third highest in the U.S. and higher than the national average of 1.11. The report finds on average, 150 people were killed in traffic crashes each year from 2015 to 2019 in the Albuqueruqe area.
A bill is making its way through the legislature that would raise the state gas tax by a penny each year for the next five years. Sponsors say that would bring in $150 million more for that backlog of road improvement projects.