On Wednesday, just 30 miles west of Tucumcari in Newkirk, a combination of state dignitaries, city and county officials, construction personnel and state maintenance personnel gathered to break ground on a project that will heavily affect Tucumcari and San Jon.
The project that was about to begin was the reconstruction of Interstate 40 between Newkirk and Tucumcari one of Governor Bill Richardson’s Investment Partnership projects.
“Interstate 40 is a major trucking corridor and heavy traffic has taken its toll on the highway,” said New Mexico Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught about the reconstruction of the interstate. “This section of I-40 is falling apart and requires immediate attention. In many areas, workers will reconstruct the interstate from the ground up. We have to keep the interstate in good condition, it’s important to the state’s economy.”
Tucumcari Mayor Mary Mayfield thanked Faught and Richardson for their taking notice of the east side of the state. “We appreciate this very much. Sometimes we out here on the east side think you have forgotten about us,” said Mayfield. “When you fund projects like this, we know you haven’t.”
Quay County Commissioner Grace Madrid also spoke to the roughly 60 people in attendance saying that the construction will mean a great deal to both Quay and Guadalupe counties. Construction on the stretch of I-40 from Newkirk to Tucumcari is set to begin November 1. Designers say it is a four-phase, $70 million project that should be completed in “approximately four years.”
“This project is also expected to pump money into the eastern New Mexico economy,” said Faught. “GRIP (Governor Richardson’s Investment Partnership), as a whole, will create thousands of jobs in our state. That means each New Mexico community will benefit.”
Other area dignitaries attending included Tucumcari City Commissioner Christopher Maestes, San Jon Mayor Joe Clark, Harding County Commissioner Robert Casados and Tucumcari Convention Center Director Ron Wilmot.