Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, requests $11.2 million for a bridge over the San Juan River connecting the San Juan Chapter with U.S. Highway 64


FARMINGTON — A bridge across the San Juan River connecting the San Juan Chapter to U.S. Highway 64 near Hogback and Waterflow is important for economic development and emergency response, according to San Juan Chapter President Rick Nez.

The bridge is one of more than 55 projects throughout San Juan County that local legislators want capital outlay money to complete. Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, has requested $11.2 million to plan, design and construct the bridge. 

The projects in San Juan County range in price from $28,657 for technology and window shades for the Diné College's south campus' Senator John Pinto Library to the $11.2 million bridge over the San Juan River.

Nez said a house burned down in the San Juan Chapter a few years ago and it took more than an hour for crews to reach the location. Currently, the Ojo Amarillo Fire Department — located more than a dozen miles east of the chapter house — responds to fires in the San Juan Chapter. San Juan County Fire Department District 1 —  Valley Fire — has a station in Hogback that Nez said could provide a fast response were there a bridge.

Nez said the bridge would also encourage economic development, including potentially a convenience store that could cater to people interested in fishing at Morgan Lake. The San Juan Chapter would receive some of the gross receipts tax revenue if convenience stores were built along Navajo Route 36 in the San Juan Chapter area.

There are no commercial businesses now within the San Juan Chapter boundaries. The closest businesses are two miles away, but are separated from the chapter by the river.

The last time capital outlay money was awarded was in 2016, when more than $4.8 million was approved for projects throughout San Juan County. The biggest of those projects was $3 million for the Flora Vista wastewater system. That project was not completed and the funds were reallocated for other water-related projects.

Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, has once again requested funding for the Flora Vista wastewater system. Bandy has requested $9.1 million, which would be enough to connect Flora Vista residents to Farmington’s wastewater system. 

The San Juan Chapter bridge is not the only local bridge on this year’s list of requests. Sen. Steve Neville, R-Farmington, and Bandy have asked for $5 million on behalf of San Juan County to replace a bridge over the San Juan River on County Road 5500 in Lee Acres. The bridge was built in the 1970s by nearby residents. Its weight limit was downgraded last year due to its deteriorating condition.

In addition to the bridge request, Clahchischilliage has requested $8.1 million for improvements including traffic lights, guard rails, signs, culverts and cattle guards on Navajo Route 36 and the intersection with NM Highway 371.

Some of the other projects local legislators sought capital outlay funds to complete were identified during the past year as urgent needs. Among these are a more than $1.6 million request from the city of Bloomfield for a new water storage tank. Neville, Bandy and Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, have requested money to replace the tank, which serves east Bloomfield and surrounding areas.

Neville also sought more than $7.1 million for the Farmers Mutual Ditch in Kirtland. A rock slide in October blocked the ditch, which provides water to farms in Kirtland and is one source of drinking water for Lower Valley Water Users Association. The ditch company hopes to pipe the ditch to prevent future blockages.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at




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