AZTEC — Improvements on Simonds Road, the last street on the city of Aztec's 2014 project checklist, will have to wait until next year.
To ensure that it is completed — the project is dependent on state funding — Aztec commissioners on Tuesday approved a request for more time to secure a grant from the New Mexico Department of Transportation for the two-block-long road project. It will require complete removal of the road surface, including a two-foot layer of subgrade material. The new design for the troubled thoroughfare — which has paving only between Aztec Boulevard and Martin Avenue and is riddled with cracks, alligatoring and missing stretches of sidewalk — includes a new sidewalk, curbs and gutters along the west side of the residential street. The city lacks the right-of-way to repair or install sidewalks on the road's east side.
In July 2013, the Transportation Department awarded the city $129,963 in funding for the construction, which is estimated to cost $350,000. The grant money came from the Transportation Department's Local Government Fund. The remainder of the project's price tag will be covered by the city's municipal road fund. If the Transportation Department approves the city's request, the city will have a six month extension — from Dec. 31 to July 31 of next year — to perform the roadwork and still receive the state funding.
The delay of the project is due, in large part, to the state's requirement that the city conduct and receive approval for extensive environmental and cultural surveys to qualify for the funding, according to Aztec Projects Manager Ed Kotyk. Construction on Simonds Road was originally expected to begin in June.
"It's very odd. In the past, such small street work through (the funding agreement between the city and the state) never went through such a process as it was work on existing streets, not like a new road being built like the Arterial," Kotyk said.
Kotyk said while progress has been slow for much of the year, new Transportation Department Local Government Environmental Analyst Rick Wessel, who is now overseeing the project, is more efficient.
But even if those studies are approved in the next few weeks by Wessel, the project will have to wait until warmer weather returns in the spring, said Aztec Finance Director Kathy Lamb in a staff summary report on Aug. 25.
"The project is anticipated to require 3.5 months," Lamb said. "Sufficient time does not remain in this calendar year to complete the project before asphalt plants close for the winter, typically the end of October to mid-November, and inclement weather potentially (creates) construction delays."
If all goes well with funding, the project can go out for bidding in January, Lamb said.