Chapter members concerned about safety in 2 sections of road

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FARMINGTON — The Nageezi Chapter is asking Navajo Nation Council delegates to support a resolution that calls on the New Mexico Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on two sections of U.S. Highway 550.

This week, the Resources and Development Committee backed legislation that requests support from the council for the chapter's initiative.

Chapter members passed their resolution in February, citing concerns about safety in response to numerous crashes that have occurred between mile marker 128 near the exit to the De-Na-Zin Trailhead and mile marker 126 near the Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community Grant School.

The other section of concern is between mile marker 116 near the Nageezi Chapter house and mile marker 112 near the Chaco Culture National Historical Park exit.

The resolution describes those areas as "being very congested" due to facilities such as a school, health center, fire station, chapter house, senior center, post office and housing areas located along those portions of the highway.

The resolution also states the chapter submitted previous requests to the NMDOT to decrease the speed limit and received no response from the agency.

Rosanne Rodriguez, spokesperson with the state transportation department, said the traffic engineer for District 5 was unavailable for comment on Friday.

Nageezi Chapter President Ervin Chavez said it is common for vehicles to travel more than 70 mph because the area lacks routine patrol by law enforcement. The chapter's request for a lower speed limit is an "ongoing battle" with the transportation department, he said.

Chavez said this is not the first time the chapter has appealed to lawmakers for support, adding the San Juan County Commission approved a resolution several years ago that supported the chapter's effort. Maybe support by the tribal council will carry weight, he added.

The bill was assigned to the Resources and Development Committee and to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee, where final authority rests.

Members of the Resources and Development Committee gave the legislation a "do pass" recommendation on Wednesday.

The bill continues to the Naa'bik'íyáti' Committee, which has a membership composed of the 24 delegates and has a regular meeting scheduled on Nov. 9.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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