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Drag racing heightens safety concern, causes road closure at NAPI

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Route 4178 is seen through barriers on Jan. 15 at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry south of Farmington.

FARMINGTON — A section of road at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry is closed over concerns about drag racing, which company officials say endangers employees and the public.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Transportation closed 2.5 miles of Navajo Route 4178 after concerns were raised by NAPI, Huerfano Chapter officials, Navajo Division of Transportation and Delegate Mark Freeland, according to a NAPI press release.

The road is accessible from New Mexico Highway 371 and is blocked by concrete barriers and signage.

NAPI CEO Dave Zeller said drag racing has been an issue for several years.

"We are very concerned about the safety of our employees and everyone else who travel the roads through NAPI," he said.

Genevia Cundiff is the security manager at NAPI and said there have been no accidents or fatalities caused by the activity in the decade she has worked there.

The department of transportation under the Bureau of Indian Affairs closed access to a section of Navajo Route 4178 due to illegal drag racing.

"However, it's a risk we do not want to take," Cundiff said. "NAPI employees traveling from field to field utilize these roadways and collisions could occur. In some instances, the employees have received threats by racers when interfered with their races."

Navajo Police Department Spokeswoman Christina Tsosie explained that the department has directed resources and assigned officers from the Shiprock and Crownpoint districts to increase police presence, in addition to other monitoring.

The response was the result of a meeting in May 2020 with officials from NAPI, San Juan County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico State Police and chapter and tribal leaders.

"A long-term plan that addresses the problem is needed to assist in alleviating the ongoing issues in that area," Tsosie said.

Barriers restrict access to Navajo Route 4178 on Jan. 15 at Navajo Agricultural Products Industry south of Farmington.

The press release states that the Sheriff's Office and State Police have been assisting when Navajo police are unavailable.

The closure is scheduled to be in effect through Feb. 28, the release states.

Anyone with information about drag racing at NAPI is asked to contact the Navajo Police Department at 505-786-2050.

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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