By Tony Parra
Cold weather delayed the completion of highway construction between Dora and Portales leaving the road partially gravel in places. Residents are adjusting to the road conditions, but worry about its safety and the broken windshields the gravel is causing.
The goal is to complete the highway project by June, according to a press release from the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
Manon Arnett, public information officer for District 2, said the $1.5 million project between mile posts 58-82 miles on N.M. 206 is still being worked on.
According to a press release from the NMDOT, the N.M. 206 preservation project was awarded to Brazier Construction, a Colorado-based contractor in October, according to the press release.
Steve Barron, interim superintendent and high school principal at Dora Municipal Schools, said the road conditions have caused damaged windshields to school vehicles.
“We had to replace windshields on a school bus and two suburbans,” Barron said. “We’re going to file claims with the people who did the road.”
Barron said he spoke with NMDOT officials who directed him to Brazier Construction to file the claims.
“My concern is that we have so many students driving to school on the highway,” Barron said. “Our concern is for the safety of the students. We are concerned about the staff that drives down from Portales.”
Barron said there where potholes and the highway began to break apart after it was laid down. Calls to Brazier Construction on Wednesday were not returned.
The project is currently under partial suspension due to cooler temperatures. The press release stated that the suspension will remain in place till late March or early April when warmer temperatures are assured.
Aldron McKinney said his daughter, Kelsey, drives to Dora for school and has had windshield damage to her car because of the loose gravel. McKinney said he hasn’t replaced the windshield to the car because even if it is replaced there’s a chance it could be damaged again because Kelsey still has to drive back and forth to Dora.
“She drives back and forth a lot and it’s (road conditions) an extra risk,” McKinney said. “A lot of kids who go to school to Dora use that road. It’s an added safety concern.”
The New Mexico State Police officials reported there have not been any accidents or incidents due to the road conditions.
Once suspension is lifted Brazier Construction has approximately 60 days to complete the $1.5 million project. The contractor grinds three to four inches of old roadway, adds new oil then lays pavement back in place. The process utilizes the existing pavement while prolonging the life of the road, however, the process does not work well in cooler temperatures, according to the press release.
Arnett said some of the other major projects in the area are on N.M. 209 from mile marker 19 to 28. Construction work began in September and is expected to finish this summer on the $7.3 million project.
According to Arnett, a future project in the Clovis area is the railroad overpass of U.S. 60 and N.M. 467 and start of the project is anticipated in the summer.