Crews on Tuesday work on dismantling a bridge on County Road 7150. Its replacement, which will have two lanes, is slated to be done in November.
Crews on Tuesday work on dismantling a bridge on County Road 7150. Its replacement, which will have two lanes, is slated to be done in November. (Dan Schwartz/The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — San Juan County maintains 19 bridges, only four of which are below modern bridge standards, according to county documents.

One of those bridges, on County Road 7150, is being dismantled and its two-lane replacement is slated to be done in November, said Dave Keck, the county's public works director. According to city documents, its demolition and reconstruction will cost $2.8 million.

Two bridges on county roads 5500 and 4599 are next to be replaced, he said, but the fourth bridge that spans an arroyo wider than the bridge is long on County Road 4450 — known as the "5-Mile Bridge" — likely won't be replaced. That would cost an estimated $15 million, he said.

On Tuesday, Keck stood under the bridge on County Road 7150, which was built in the 1970s from World War II surplus pylons and girders, and listened to it creak in the wind. It teeters, he said, because it's "makeshift."

"This is the worst bridge in the county," he said.

Because the bridge runs through a Navajo community, the Navajo Nation's Department of Transportation contributed $1.5 million for the work, Keck said. The Federal Highway Administration granted $938,480 and the county allotted $401,520, he said.

This bridge was unsafe, he said, but the "substandard" rating the three other bridges received does not mean they are dangerous.

He said none of the county's substandard bridges have caused deaths or crashes.

Bridges built 20, 30 or 40 years ago were designed to different standards than those of today, he said. They may be without sidewalks or adequate guard rails.

The county ranks the County Road 7150 bridge with a 12.8 percent sufficiency rating, according to county documents. Ranked at 13 percent, and soon to be the county's worst bridge, is the 5-Mile Bridge. The County Road 5500 bridge is ranked 41.5 percent and the bridge on County Road 4599 is ranked 47.5 percent.

Crews on Tuesday work on dismantling a bridge on County Road 7150.
Crews on Tuesday work on dismantling a bridge on County Road 7150. (Dan Schwartz/The Daily Times)

A rating below 50 percent is deemed substandard, according to county documents.

All other county bridges are ranked satisfactory, and five are new, according to county documents.

Keck said he has planned for 13 years to demolish the County Road 7150 bridge, but federal funds for these projects are scarce. And much of the New Mexico Department of Transportation's grant money, he said, comes from the federal government.

"It's all well and good to do this planning," Keck said, "but where are you going to get the money?"

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.