Route 66 bridge officially opened

TV Hagenah

As of Thursday, Aug. 26, people can once again travel from San Jon to Tucumcari on Old Route 66. The Revuelto Bridge is open.

It was opened in a special ceremony that saw just under 50 people listening to dignitaries such as New Mexico State Senator Clinton Harden, Department of Transportation District Engineer Severiano K. Sisneros and Quay County Commissioners Jeff Lewalling, Franklin McCasland and Grace Madrid. The bridge was closed for repairs for a little more than one year.

All speakers praised the speed at which the bridge was reconstructed since usually similar work on bridges in the state takes as much as three years to complete.
“It just proves what can be accomplished when everyone works together,” said Lewalling. “It just shows what will happen if they hear from San Jon, Tucumcari and the county all at the same time.”

The Superintendent of San Jon Schools Craig Stockton said he was extremely happy that buses from his school will no longer have to travel along Interstate 40 carrying children and then back along the 66 as far as the bridge to pick up students. “Waymond (Bus driver Waymond Ragland) said our buses will be running this (Old Route 66) tomorrow (Friday),” said Stockton, “and they are very happy to be doing it.”

County Commissioner McCasland, in whose district the bridge is located, said he thought that many people will be taking advantage of the new bridge. “So many people will be helped by this,” said McCasland, “and it provides a good alternative to the high-speed travel on I-40.” Another dignitary pointed out he had a relative that drives no faster than 55 wherever he travels and will appreciate the opening of the bridge. “He has no business on the interstate. This will be a big help.”

Ranchers Lawrence and Patsy Szaloy who live near Tucumcari but pasture many of their cattle on the San Jon side of the bridge said that taking full loads of hay and feed along Interstate 40 to San Jon and then back down Route 66 to the cattle was too much to keep doing. “If we would have had to do this for another year we would have gotten out of the business,” said Patsy.

Christina Romero of the New Mexico Department of Transportation said that the department promised to get the bridge done quickly, “and it’s all about promises kept.”