$3.67 million awarded for projects


August 21, 2019

Ron Warnick

The Old Route 66 bridge over Trujillo Creek between San Jon and Endee is shown Thursday afternoon. Quay County recently received a grant of more than $3 million to build a new low-water bridge to bypass the narrow 1931 span.

Quay County entities were awarded Thursday with a total of $3.67 million in state grants for three projects, including for a new bridge on Old Route 66 between San Jon and Endee.

The county received $3,081,465 from the Local Government Transportation Project Fund for the bridge that required only a 5% match, or $162,182.37.

The city of Tucumcari received $475,000, requiring a $25,000 match, for its Second Street rebuilding project in downtown.

The village of San Jon received $118,750, requiring a $6,500 match, for new street lights on Interstate 40.

The awarding of competitive grants from the $50 million fund were announced Thursday during a state transportation committee meeting in Ruidoso.

Quay County Manager Richard Primrose said a low-water bridge would be built on the north side of a 1931 timber bridge on a gravel section of Old Route 66 that goes over Trujillo Creek. The current bridge's overall condition had been rated as "fair" during its last inspection, and it is load-rated at only eight tons. The bridge would be bypassed and left standing because of its historic nature.

The bridge had been on Quay County's to-do list for a long time. According to his own research, Primrose said the county had sought funds for the bridge since 2002.

"It seemed like when we tried to get funding for the bridge, there was always a stumbling block," he said Friday.

Quay County originally had sought more than $6 million from the Local Government Transportation Project Fund to build another bridge on Old Route 66 a few hundred feet east. That span goes over San Jon Creek.

The San Jon Creek bridge, also built in 1931, remains on the county's proposed five-year infrastructure and capital improvement plan list. The county is seeking capital-outlay funds from the state for it in the coming years.

Primrose said the $3 million award could have used to repair the Trujillo Creek bridge, but it still would have been a narrow, one-lane span that doesn't meet modern standards. Instead, the county decided to use the funds for building a new bridge nearby.

Primrose noted he thought it also was wise to let the old bridge stand for the benefit of Route 66 travelers. He noted county road superintendent Larry Moore, while recently measuring the bridge, encountered a group of motorcyclists and their support vehicle there.

"We get travelers from all over the world traveling that road," Primrose said.

Primrose said he was appreciative the Local Government Transportation Project Fund seemed to be weighted more for rural projects.

"I commend the Legislature for recognizing the need for local infrastructure," he said.

Ralph Lopez, project manager for Tucumcari's Community Development Project, said the $475,000 grant would be rolled into existing funds for Second Street that total $1.2 million.

The city hopes to eventually rebuild Second Street from Main Street to Route 66, but current funding would cover only two or three downtown blocks, Lopez said, especially with the hefty expense of utility work.

Lopez said with the new funding, the city will repackage its Second Street proposal and try to find bidders. He said he hopes to have construction going as early as winter, but spring 2020 is more likely because freezing conditions can bring work to a standstill.

Toni Stoner, treasurer at the village of San Jon, said the $118,750 grant will allow the village to replace aging lights on Interstate 40 that had grown increasingly difficult to maintain.

"We've been incurring a lot of expenses to keep them going," Stoner said.


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