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FARMINGTON — The first parts of construction on the final phase of the U.S. Highway 64 widening project will begin next week, according to contractors who attended a public meeting Wednesday.

The project will reduce the lanes for about two years. During that time, the speed limit will be reduced to 35 miles per hour.

Residents and business representatives took the opportunity to talk to contractors about concerns about access both during and after construction.

New Mexico Department of Transportation Area Project Director Cassie Peskor said there have been disgruntled property owners in previous phases, but the widening project will ultimately benefit the local area.

The widening project began in 2008 in anticipation of continued growth in the Farmington area. Over the past decade, portions of the highway have been transformed from two lanes in each direction to three lanes in each direction.

The contractors have until Aug. 31, 2020, to complete the project.

This final phase will stretch from the area of Envirotech Inc. near SunRay Park and Casino to Browning Parkway in Farmington.

Mountain States Construction Project Manager Mike Brown said next week the crews will begin work at the intersection of County Road 5500 and County Road 350 and U.S. Highway 64. At first, construction will only impact the right lane for westbound traffic.

More significant impacts will be seen in February or March.

Brown said in February or March crews will redirect traffic onto the eastbound side of the highway and have one lane going in each direction. A concrete barrier will divide those two lanes.

Redirecting traffic onto the eastbound portion of the road will help crews complete work on the westbound section of the highway, he explained. He said work on the westbound portion of the highway will likely end in October, and then work will begin on the eastbound portion of the highway.

"It's a big project," said Mountain States Construction Field Office Manager Janice Thayne. "But we plan on doing a good quality job in a timely manner."

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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