WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Xochitl Torres Small (D-N.M.) announced that the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) a $12,500,000 grant.
NMDOT will use the funds to repair and add safety enhancements along a section of US Highway 285 between Loving, New Mexico and the Texas border. In addition to repairs from damage caused by increased heavy truck and equipment traffic, the project will provide turning and acceleration/deceleration lanes, shoulders, bridge structures, and stronger pavement on US 285 from the Texas-New Mexico state line to Loving within the Permian Basin region.
US 285 is an important transportation artery in southeastern New Mexico that connects communities across the region that has seen intensified traffic associated with the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin. Recently, the heightened usage of US 285 by oil and gas transport vehicles has significantly worsened road conditions along this route. As a result, the affected highway section has experienced significant pavement failures, the appearance of sinkholes, and the degradation of associated bridge structures. That damage and limited safety features like turning lanes have contributed to an elevated level of traffic fatalities along this section of roadway.
“These funds to repair damage, add turn lanes, and enhance US Highway 285 in the Permian Basin are critical for public safety and important for the southeast New Mexico economy,” Udall said. “Given the rapidly growing use of this roadway by heavy trucks and equipment, these federal funds will help NMDOT make US 285 a safer, more reliable highway thoroughfare to the Texas border. This project represents strong state, local and federal collaboration and as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to fight for funding to improve New Mexico’s infrastructure to benefit safety and our economy.”
“When I was in southeastern New Mexico earlier this year, I saw firsthand the impact that increased traffic in the Permian Basin has had on local roads, especially US 285. This highway serves WIPP, the energy industry, tourism, and communities in southeastern New Mexico. We need to ensure the highway is safe for heavy work vehicles and for local residents who rely on the road to access employment, education, and emergency services. That’s why I fought so hard to secure this federal investment in urgently needed repairs and improvements. I remain focused on delivering federal resources like this to build 21st century infrastructure and increase economic opportunities in every corner of New Mexico,” Heinrich said.
"It's vital that make robust investments in New Mexico's infrastructure to bolster economic development and create new, good-paying jobs across the state. I'm proud to announce this critical grant to improve the roads, highways, and bridges that New Mexicans rely on for their everyday travel," said Luján. "I will continue fighting to ensure our communities have the resources they need to thrive."
“Updates to roads and infrastructure are key to keeping families safe on the road, however, there are highways in New Mexico that are seeing more traffic, more wear and tear and are increasingly dangerous for local drivers. This grant will make sure Highway 285 is safer for those who commute between our small towns or use the roads to get to sports games and events in our rural communities, ” said Haaland.
“Every time I visit the southeastern part of my district, I'm told to travel safe. That's not a nicety–it's a matter of life and death. We all bear the responsibility to build safer roads, especially when they’re some of the most dangerous in the country. Today, I am proud to report after the delegation’s advocacy almost $13 million in BUILD grants has been awarded for shovel-ready projects to improve Highway 285. These grants will improve the safety for travelers by allowing for additional lanes with stronger pavement to be created from the Texas-New Mexico state line to Loving. These grants are much needed and long overdue infrastructure support to a region that is helping to drive the state’s economy,” said Torres Small.