Route 66 gets new face

By Ryn Gargulinski: QUAY COUNTY SUN

Tucumcari residents will soon be able to get even bigger kicks on Route 66. The Mother Road is scheduled to get a facelift beginning next month, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
One stretch slated for repaving runs from the Mountain Road intersection near Kmart all the way to the convention center on the other side of town, according to Jerry Cannon, Tucumcari’s project manager for DOT.
The project was originally scheduled to start right after June 9, Cannon said, but the decision to add an additional 10 miles caused a delay.
With a cost of $1.3 million of state monies set aside for the improvements, the cost is about average for the projects Cannon sees in his jurisdiction of the Tucumcari area.
He said $20 million was spent for improvements of Interstate 40 near Newkirk; road work at the intersection of Highway 54 and Main Street came in at $140,000, he said.
The Route 66 project is contracted with Cutler Repaving, Cannon said, and the $1.3 million price tag includes improvements on Tucumcari’s stretch of Route 66 as well as those that snake through Logan, San Jon and roadway on the way to Grady.
“There has never been a chintzy project,” Cannon said of the number of roadwork his department oversees. The biggest task he has seen with his seven years with the DOT is the First Street project, Cannon said, not necessarily because of the $12 million cost but due to the two years expected to complete it.
Although the Route 66 repaving is expected to take much less time, Cannon said construction will be under way for a little over a month. Cannon said the biggest hardship of such an undertaking as major as Route 66 is repaving in sections so traffic is not entirely blocked. Even with an inconvenience of as little as 31 days, Cannon said people will still be annoyed with the roadwork. “Everyone just wants to wake up and have it finished,” he said.
Sherry Bruhn, manager of Winners Chevron on the corner of Route 66 and First Street said she would surely be happy if work were finished near her home. She resides along a stretch being repaved on the First Street project.
“It’s driving me crazy,” Bruhn said of the constant construction noise. “All I hear is ‘beep beep beep.’”
Bruhn was surprised when she found out Route 66 was slated for improvements.
“There’s a lot of other streets that are more damaged than Route 66,” she said, adding that stretch may be chosen for repairs just because of its name or infamy.
“Lincoln Street is horrible,” she said.