Planning, development, and construction work to connect U.S. Highway 285 and U.S. Highway 62/180 in Eddy County continued with the relocation of utilities at the intersection of U.S. 62/180 and Carrasco Road.
Road closures and detours are in place at Energy Avenue while underground utilities were moved. NMDOT estimated work would last nearly five weeks.
“This safety project is part of the ongoing transportation improvements in the community,” a news release from NMDOT read.
Realignment of the eastern and western approaches to the intersection, widening the southbound right-turn lane, sidewalk installations, raised medians, a traffic signal, traffic signs and pavement markings were part of the work, according to the release.
Work at the intersection was scheduled for completion by the middle of 2023.
The project is a collaboration between Eddy County, the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and the City of Carlsbad.
Southeast Loop Road heads to phase two
Eddy County Community Services Director Wesley Hooper said solicitations for construction bids for the second part of the Southeast Loop along U.S. 62/180 and Refinery Road continued into late June. He said phase two construction would start in July.
Hooper said Eddy County approached phase three patiently as NMDOT had not decided a budget for the project to be taken from the Transportation Project Fund (TPF).
“TPF is a state funded program with annual application cycles. Local and tribal governments are eligible to apply. NMDOT issues the Call-for-Projects, which provides eligible project requirements, project prioritization criteria and application package requirements,” read the Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District (SENMEDD) council of governments website.
Hooper said phase three plans were nearly 95 percent complete as the County waits for funds.
He said estimated cost of the Southeast Loop Road project was $27 million.
Hooper said NMDOT, Eddy County and the City of Carlsbad agreed to a $1.25 million traffic signal installation at U.S. 62/180 and New Mexico State Road 200.
“The traffic signals will be put out to bid in October,” Hooper said.
“NMDOT is heading this project up with the County funding 2/3’s of the construction and NMDOT assuming 1/3 of the construction cost. The City will assume maintenance of the lighting and the traffic signals once the project is complete,” he said.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said increased business from the oil and gas industry in Carlsbad and parts of Eddy County meant extra traffic through parts of the city.
“Most Carlsbad residents we’ve spoken to strongly support adding traffic signals to key intersections in the area to more safely regulate the flow of traffic. This is part of the overall effort, which includes street improvements and completion of loop road efforts,” he said.
As construction continued on the Southeast Loop Road along U.S. 62/180, work progressed on the West Loop Road along U.S. 285 said Eddy County Public Works Director Jason Burns.
He said different construction crews were working on three sections of the West Loop Road.
“We’re working with the City of Carlsbad and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to get across their waterlines. We’re moving on this in different points and angles and its going to be busy for the next six months to get this done,” Burns said.
Work on the estimated $12 million project started in 2021 near Dark Canyon and on the northside near Happy Valley Road.
Construction not limited to major highways
Burns said reconstruction and pavement at the intersection of Shugart Road and Lusk Plant Road east of Loco Hills would start Monday.
He said the intersection should be closed until July 1 and access would be minimal.
Burns said public works crews were preparing to fill cracks and reseal portions of current pavement on some Eddy County roads later this summer.