U.S. Highway 64 widening project enters final month of work

Completion date was delayed by drainage issues

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Motorists who regularly use U.S. Highway 64 between Farmington and Bloomfield will see their commute made easier soon as a widening project that started nearly two years ago nears completion.

The project is scheduled to be finished by the middle of September according to New Mexico Department of Transportation's District 5 spokesman Jim Murray.

The original contracted completion date of Aug. 31 was extended a couple of weeks because of several drainage issues that were uncovered during the excavation process, he said.

Murray said no further delays are anticipated, and the project is slated to be wrapped up a little more than a month from now.

"The road should be fully functional," he said.

Workers surround a concrete truck, right, parked at the intersection of Andrea Drive and U.S. Highway 64 on Aug. 12, 2020, as work continues on the widening of the highway.

Workers are completing paving and striping operations, as well as installing permanent traffic signals, Murray said.

Work on the widening project, which stretches from just east of the intersection of County Road 5500/County Road 350 to just east of Browning Parkway in Farmington, began in November 2018. Its main feature has been the widening of the roadway from two lanes to three in each direction. But it also has included full road reconstruction, raised medians, right- and left-turn bays, drainage structure extensions and access management.

A worker walks down the U.S. Highway 64 median as traffic pours by in both directions on Aug. 12, 2020, east of Farmington.

The cost of the project is a little less than $34.7 million. It mirrors an earlier widening project on the section of the highway that stretches east to Bloomfield, meaning the entire length of U.S. Highway 64 between Farmington and that community soon will consist of three lanes in each direction, improving the flow of traffic along that corridor.

During construction, traffic in each direction has been restricted to one lane, and the speed limit has been reduced from 55 mph to 35 mph. Access to many businesses was limited, and traffic backups were common, especially at the intersection with County Road 5500/County Road 350, leading to frustration for drivers and business owners alike.

New traffic signals are being put in place at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and County Road 5500/County Road 350 on Aug. 12, 2020.

According to the NMDOT website, the project is the latest in a series of projects between Farmington and Bloomfield that have been designed to improve regional mobility in a safe and efficient manner while addressing corridor access issues. Work on the various projects began in 2008.

Murray said his agency soon will turn its attention to another U.S. Highway 64 project in San Juan County — the replacement of bridges near Shiprock and the reconstruction of the highway from Shiprock to the Arizona state line. That project has been in the study phase for several months, he said, but project managers will open it to public comments soon.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.

A steamroller smooths recently laid asphalt on U.S. Highway 64 just east of Andrea Drive on Aug. 12, 2020.