Eddy County approves agreement with state on bypass work

Mike Smith
Carlsbad Current-Argus
Wes Hooper, Eddy County interim co-county manager, says the State of New Mexico is paying $11.7 million planning, design and construction work of a bypass southeast of Carlsbad.

Work on a $30 million bypass around southeast Carlsbad is set to start in the spring of 2020.

Tuesday, the Eddy County Board of Commissioners approved an agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to plan, design and construct a bypass route between U.S. Highways 285 and 62/180.

Eddy County, the State of New Mexico and the City of Carlsbad are partnering on the project.

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“It’s a great start,” said Wes Hooper, Eddy County interim co-county manager.

“The project, which will complete a loop from north Carlsbad to south Carlsbad, will be a tremendous help, especially with heavy truck traffic,” he said.

Jeri Strong, Eddy County public information officer said $11.7 million for the project should be available starting January 2020.

More:County approves planning contract for east bypass

Strong said the New Mexico Department of Transportation is providing $6.7 million and $5 million will come from New Mexico House Bill 2.

Hooper said the county is working to secure funds for the rest of the project, either through grants or state appropriations. 

"Staff is currently researching other grant funding opportunities along with preparing for the next legislative session in hopes of receiving more funding through the State," he said. 

City of Carlsbad contributes to the project

Ward 3 Carlsbad City Councilor Jason Shirley said a bypass around Carlsbad has been talked about frequently during his eight years on the council.

Jason Shirley

Shirley said the City of Carlsbad provided $1 million for the bypass work.

“I’m very excited about the county moving forward with the bypass. It will help so much diverting traffic and specifically big truck traffic. It’s long overdue and I’m excited to see it get off the ground,” he said.

More:City of Carlsbad looks ahead for capital projects

“This helps our infrastructure last longer and I think it makes the roads safer both for the big trucks and for the citizens as we’re driving through town taking our kids to ball practice and things like that.

“There’s no hesitation from me or the rest of the council to go ahead and partner with the county on a level of $1 million. We’re partners in this thing and we believe in everything we can do.”

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said the bypass should provide relief for Carlsbad’s busiest thoroughfares.

“We support all efforts to add more infrastructure to Carlsbad and the surrounding area,” Janway said.

“The development of the Southeast Relief Route will help move (oil) industry traffic to the outskirts of town and reduce congestion along Canal Street and National Parks Highway. We still have a long way to get to where we need to be.”

More:Lujan Grisham: Industry must invest in Eddy County infrastructure

County thanks those who lobbied Santa Fe

Hooper said county commissioners and members of the Southeast New Mexico legislative delegation successfully lobbied to get funds for the project from the State.

“We want to thank our legislators for all of their hard work, and our county commissioners for their support,” he said.

“Especially (District 5) Commissioner Susan Crockett, who was in Santa Fe frequently explaining the dire need for this project.”

New Mexico House Minority Leader Jim Townsend (R-54) said the bypass was needed for years.

State Rep. Jim Townsend (R-54) says a bypass south of Carlsbad is needed for the community and State of New Mexico.

“It’s absolutely imperative we address traffic flows in Carlsbad and the greater Permian Basin,” he said. “It’s something Carlsbad and New Mexico as a whole really needs.”

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.