By William Thompson: Quay COunty Sun
A federal highway bill before the U.S. Senate would offer New Mexico $1.68 billion in funds over a five-year period according to a press release from Senator Pete Domenici.
The bill, if passed by the senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush, would provide the necessary funds to widen U.S. 54 to four lanes between Tucumcari and the Texas state line.
Pete Kampfer, Tucumcari’s economic development director, recently returned from Washington, D.C. where he said New Mexico representatives were optimistic about the bill’s chances.
“Senators Pete Domenici, Jeff Bingaman and Representative Tom Udall predicted President Bush will sign the bill if passed,” Kampfer said. “There was no conflict or anything negative. The bill is perceived to be a good idea by the senators.”
Kampfer said the bill could be signed by President Bush in late May. If the president approves the bill it could take a while before work on the widening of U.S. 54 could begin, Kampfer said.
“Money would not be applied to the project for three to five years,” Kampfer said. “The engineers would have to do all their work first and that would take time.”
A wider U.S. 54 would impact Tucumcari’s economy, Kampfer said.
“It would help the economy here because more people will be coming through here,” Kampfer said. “If U.S. 54 is improved it will make it more economical for interstate commerce. It will help a future industrial park in Tucumcari because it would provide another avenue of shipping in and out of Tucumcari.”
According to Domenici’s press release, the bill’s funding would give New Mexico $337.9 million a year from 2005 to 2009.
“The transportation infrastructure this bill would support is important to our state’s future,” Domenici said in the release. “This new bill is fair to New Mexico and it should be passed soon.”
Mew Mexico lawmakers
Sen. Pete Domenici R-N.M. (505) 623-6170
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. (505) 622-7113
Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M. (505) 763-7616