Curry officials raise road concerns


August 16, 2017

CLOVIS — A New Mexico Department of Transportation official addressed Curry County commissioners on Tuesday and was met with a list of concerns about as long as the road between Clovis and Cannon Air Force Base.

Commissioners took much of their meeting’s first hour speaking with Francisco Sanchez of the DoT’s District 2, which covers southeastern New Mexico.

Largely he updated commissioners on a project set for 2018 to improve US 60/84 on the approximate seven miles between Clovis and CAFB’s north entrance.

The commissioners largely objected to a DoT ruling a traffic light was not necessary at the U.S. 60/84 and N.M. 467 intersection because there was inadequate traffic or danger to justify the signal.

Commissioners Chet Spear and Robert Thornton disputed that reasoning, noting traffic is low because drivers are using other roads to specifically avoid 60/84. Thornton said drivers from Cannon either:

• Leave the base through the south gate, then take N.M. 467 to Brady Street, or

• Leave the base through the north gate, then take N.M. 311 to Llano Estacado Boulevard

Spear said it’s good to hear work is expected to begin next year, but he recalled the road originally discussed for 2016 and 2017 and had fears that another bad winter storm would be devastating to the road.

He remembered the state “spruced up” 60/84 in 1980 when the Olympic torch was coming through Clovis and again in 2005 during a Base Realignments and Closures process that featured a hearing in Clovis. Spear felt the latter was crucial to Cannon remaining open, and both the Cannon and Clovis communities desperately need a fixed road.

“In my own opinion, and in the opinion of many of my constituents, 60/84 is probably in the worst condition we’ve seen in several years,” Spear said. “You’ll find going west is worse that heading east. Patches have patches. It’s littered with weeds and dying trees. It’s really an eyesore.”

Commissioner Ben Smith said the intersection has been the site of a recent fatality “and a multitude of crashes.”

The intersection was where Brandon Summers, 21, was killed in a July 2016 crash.

Sanchez said he understood the frustration, and noted the district has about 7,500 miles of roadways to maintain while getting the same funding as districts with fewer miles.

Thornton said he would like to ask for another evaluation of the 467-60/84 intersection traffic once the road improvements were in place. Sanchez said a request could be made at any time.

Commissioner Angelina Baca said she and her constituents were frustrated with work that just seemed to halt on 60/84 between Thornton Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.

“It was so unprofessional, it was so uncalled for,” Baca said.

Sanchez said he would have to find specific details on that project and talk with her again.

He added that the district gets $40 million each year for road projects, but upgrading all of the roads to “good” status would likely have an $800 million price tag.

“We’re falling behind every year,” he said.


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