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AZTEC — The Aztec City Commission on Tuesday evening approved an application to the Bureau of Land Management for needed rights of way for the east Aztec arterial route, which is intended to divert truck traffic around the city.

Commissioners approved the application as part of the consent agenda. All the items on the consent agenda are considered in a single vote. The agenda was approved 3-0.

City manager Joshua Ray said the right of way application affects phase 2, the final part, of the arterial route, which has not yet gone out to bid. The loop around the city is part of Aztec's effort to improve its downtown, which has historic buildings that could be damaged by vibrations from heavy truck traffic.

City officials met with the BLM last week to discuss the application, which is a modified version of the application that the BLM granted the city in 2009. The 2009 application included a 150-foot right of way for the portion of the route crossing federal lands.

Since 2009, the city determined that the 150-foot right of way was insufficient for the four-lane road and the necessary slope protection it planned to build.

The arterial route design requires a 450-foot right of way. While building retaining walls could decrease the amount of right of way required for the route, it would increase construction costs, which are already higher than the city initially planned. The bid for phase 1b of the route came in higher than the city engineer's estimate.

If the BLM chooses not to grant the application, the city may have to build the retaining walls. However, Ray said he is confident the BLM will grant the right of way.

During the Tuesday meeting, commissioners also approved an application to the BLM for a waterline right of way for phase 2 of the arterial route.

The city is planning on constructing a 10-inch waterline along the route that will serve future development.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.

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