By Michael Harrell: PNT Staff Writer
After 10 months of starts and stops, the final phase of construction on N.M. 206 south of Portales will begin soon, according to state highway officials.
The second phase of the project is scheduled to begin Aug. 21 and should take 15 workdays, weather permitting, according to state officials.
Raymond Reeves, a project manager for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said the initial road correction was complete and a final overlay will soon be applied, making the road smoother than it was before work began last fall.
Started Sept. 20, the project was expected to be completed within six months, according to Reeves.
The road project, between mileposts 51 and 82, is being done by Brazier Construction, a Colorado-based contractor, according to a NMDOT press release.
According to Reeves, in the winter, an error was made by the contractor with the mix of asphalt used, which delayed the project’s progress. An overlay will be made on 19 miles of N.M. 206, correcting the error.
“The emulsion was too rich, too much asphalt was used. When it hardened the asphalt was pushed up through the top of the road,” Reeves said.
In compensation for the error, the contracting company agreed to pay for two miles themselves, a $150,000 expense, Reeves told the PNT.
Mel Brazier of Brazier Construction told the PNT there had been several problems on the project. He said he didn’t want to get into specifics, but confirmed the expense to Brazier given by Reeves was correct.
“We intend to share in some of the expenses,” Brazier said.
An additional seven miles, problems with availability of materials and weather were also mentioned as contributing to the delay, according to NMDOT.
“It should be a lot better than it was before we started,” Reeves said.
The method being used for the road utilizing material that is ground up from the existing road, costs $75,000 per mile, according to the press release. Conventional pavement preservation methods cost $500,000 per mile, according to the press release.
“What we’re trying to do is recycle a road,” Brazier said. “That’s going to be the wave of the future. Eventually when we get the process down, we’ll be able to save the taxpayer half (the price of traditional methods).”
Brazier said the successes with the process outnumber the failures. He said his company has 1,500 miles of recycled roadway in use in New Mexico, some in use as long as 15 years.
The project’s estimated cost is $1.5 million, according to a previous PNT article. It is paid for by general state maintenance funds, according to Reeves.
Reeves said to expect more lane closures and reduced speeds on the road for at least the next five weeks.