New County Road 5500 bridge across San Juan River is fully open

County officials planning ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. May 10

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Commuters who use the County Road 5500 bridge to cross the San Juan River woke up to a nice surprise Monday morning when they were able to cross the river for the first time in more than four years without sitting at a light while traffic was restricted to one direction at a time.

County spokesman Devin Neeley said the Albuquerque-based contractor the Kiewit New Mexico Co. has completed its work on the new bridge and fully opened it.

Officials will celebrate the milestone with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 10 at the site, which is south of the intersection of County Road 5500 and U.S. Highway 64 near McGee Park.

Traffic on the old bridge and the new bridge that was built to replace it had been restricted to one lane in alternating directions since March 2018. Traffic lights at both ends restricted the flow of traffic to one direction at a time, meaning motorists sometimes had to wait up to four minutes to cross the bridge.

The old bridge, built by local residents in the early 1970s, was aging and considered unsafe. County officials had been trying to replace it since at least 2017, when an engineering survey revealed its condition had deteriorated sharply.

Lengthy waits to cross the bridge over the San Juan River on County Road 5500 are now a thing of the past, as the bridge fully reopened on May 9.

Work on the new bridge began in the spring of 2021, with Kiewit workers demolishing the old structure and constructing the new one a lane at a time to continue to allow motorists to cross the river rather than be forced to detour many miles out of their way. Kiewit was awarded a nearly $7.4 million contract to complete the project.

The project was funded by capital outlay money from the state Legislature, New Mexico Department of Transportation funds and San Juan County bond money.

The new bridge over the San Juan River on County Road 5500 was built by the Kiewit New Mexico Co. at a cost of nearly $7.4 million.

Neeley said a variety of county officials and state legislators are expected to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which he said would be brief and would not impact the flow of traffic across the bridge.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.