County needs to replace Lee Acres area bridge

Structure dates from 1970s and has deteriorated recently

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
County officials say the County Road 5500 bridge crossing the San Juan River is deteriorating and will need to be replaced soon.

FARMINGTON — County officials say the County Road 5500 bridge over the San Juan River needs to be replaced.

County Executive Officer Kim Carpenter said the replacement of the bridge is inevitable because of its poor condition. 

"Bridge infrastructure is probably one of the most frustrating things for governments nationwide," Carpenter said.

He said bridges are expensive, and governments struggle to find funding to repair and replace them.

The county has known the bridge will need to be replaced for several years. But earlier this month, the county received an engineering report that prompted it to move the bridge up on the priority list. The report showed that the structure's condition has deteriorated over the past few years.


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San Juan County has applied for funding for the project from various sources over the years, including capital outlay money from the state. Carpenter said the county will also pursue possible federal funding to replace the bridge.

A vehicle crosses over the San Juan River Wednesday on County Road 5500 southwest of Bloomfield.

"We know that there's not going to be federal money that we can rely on, though we're going to pursue it," Carpenter said.

Carpenter suggested using bond money from the Piñon Hills Boulevard extension project to pay for the bridge. The county would then construct its portion of the Piñon Hills Boulevard extension project in phases. The majority of the project is a city of Farmington project, but the county will construct a portion of the road in the Crouch Mesa area.

In 2015, the county approved issuing $19 million in bonds and refinancing existing bonds. The combination of the new bonds and existing bonds totaled $38 million, according to The Daily Times archives. The revenue was intended for use on capital projects. The bridge on County Road 5500 was one of the projects on the list, although it was ranked as a lower priority than other projects. In addition to the bridge and Piñon Hills Boulevard, other projects on the list included fire stations, energy-conservation improvements on county buildings and the resurfacing of County Road 350.


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Carpenter said the bridge was built by nearby residents in the 1970s. 

"It's been a very good bridge," he said.

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