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FARMINGTON — A film studio, the East Aztec Arterial Route and a Navajo code talkers museum are among the hundreds of projects included in this year’s capital outlay bill.

Capital outlay funds are requested by lawmakers on behalf of other entities like local governments to pay for infrastructure projects.

The capital outlay bill passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate last week and is now waiting for the governor to sign. It includes $933 million of funding for projects throughout the state, including $30.4 million for projects in San Juan County.

A full list of projects can be found at nmlegis.gov.

$1 million allocated for film studio

The bill includes funding for a film studio that San Juan County Commissioners hope will assist in diversifying the economy. If approved by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the county will receive $1 million to build a film studio.

This funding comes shortly after the Legislature passed a bill that provides a 5 percent tax credit to film makers who film outside of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Aztec could get money for arterial route, North Main Avenue extension

The bill provides the City of Aztec with funding for two major projects that it has been working on for years. The capital outlay bill would give Aztec about $3.16 million for construction of the East Aztec Arterial Route, which will take commercial truck traffic out of downtown. The two ends of the road have already been built and the city will use the capital outlay funding to build the rest of the road.

"We've got both ends in place," said City Manager Steve Mueller. "Now we just need the middle."

He said the city is still acquiring property to complete the route and anticipates construction will begin next year.

Aztec could also receive about $2.5 million for the North Main Avenue extension. The project is intended to connect downtown with Aztec Ruins National Monument while providing opportunities for pedestrian-friendly business development near the Animas River.

This project could begin this year, Mueller said.

Both of these projects have been at the top of Aztec's priority list.

"We're really excited about the possibilities for Aztec," Mueller said.

San Juan Regional Medical Center requests funds for pediatric unit

The pediatric unit at San Juan Regional Medical Center could also receive money for improvements if approved by the governor. The bill includes $1.9 million for the unit. San Juan Regional Medical Center CEO Jeff Bourgeois said about 1,200 babies are born each year at San Juan Regional Medical Center. The project will increase patient privacy by modernizing the labor and delivery rooms. It will also update the nursery and patient corridors.

In addition, San Juan Regional Medical Center asked the San Juan County legislative delegation for funds to replace a cooling tower as well as a chiller at the hospital's central utility plant, which has reached the end of its useful life, Bourgeois said. That $1.3 million request has also been included in the legislation that is awaiting the governor’s approval.

Bill includes funding for local ditches

If approved by the governor, Farmers Mutual Ditch will receive the most money for a single project in San Juan County. The ditch company received more than $3.3 million to pipe the water along the base of Harper Hill. This will prevent future landslides from blocking the ditch. Farmers Mutual Ditch serves agricultural users as well as Valley Water and Sanitation District.

Bloomfield Irrigation District, which has also struggled with its ditch infrastructure, could receive $658,000 for work on the ditch. The Bloomfield Irrigation District ditch is the primary source of drinking water for the City of Bloomfield, Blanco and the Harvest Gold subdivision.

The bill also allocates $35,000 to the Turley-Manzanares Ditch for improvements.

Navajo Nation leaders praise funds for projects

The Navajo Nation president and vice president praised the capital outlay bill for including about $28 million for projects in Navajo communities throughout the state.

This includes more than $3 million for work on the judicial and public safety complex in Shiprock. This complex will house the Shiprock Police Department. The total project is estimated to cost $45 million.

The bill also includes $2 million in funding for renewable energy projects in San Juan, McKinley and Sandoval counties.

The capital outlay funding would also pay for a Navajo code talkers museum and veterans center. The bill provides $1 million to build and furnish the facility, which will be built in the Tse Bonito area west of Gallup. The museum will be built in McKinley County. The bill would pay for more than $41.8 million of projects in McKinley County, including the museum.

Another project could make driving safer on Navajo Route 36. The bill includes $1.3 million for a traffic signal at the intersection of Navajo Route 36 and New Mexico Highway 371.

"In order for community development and economic development to occur in our communities in New Mexico, we need the partnership and support of the state of New Mexico," Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer said in a press release. "When the Navajo Nation prospers, the entire state of New Mexico prospers."

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

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