Report: State’s deteriorated roads costly for NM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A large percentage of New Mexico’s roads are in bad shape, some bridges unsafe according to a new national study. It’s costing drivers millions of dollars every year, but state officials say it will cost a lot more to fix the problems.
Drivers see lots of road work around the state, but according to a report released by TRIP, a Washington, D.C. based transportation research group, more is needed.
According to the report, 23 percent of the state’s maintained roads are in poor condition, “and as rough roads take a toll on the motorists, more critically they’re also taking a toll on the vehicles we drive on,” said Rocky Moretti, with TRIP.
In fact, the report states the average driver in places like Albuquerque and Santa Fe spends on average $458 a year in extra vehicle operating costs because of the rough roads, which adds up to $439 million annually for drivers statewide.
Several construction projects are already underway, but they’re all costly. State officials said more money is needed to address everything that needs to be fixed. “It basically comes down to funding, and we’re doing good with what we have right now and we’re remaining on budget and maintaining the roads and infrastructure, and when we get those funds then we’ll put them to work,” explained Melissa Dosher, of the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
The TRIP report looks at state transportation systems and how road conditions impact the public.
The report cites a high amount of fatal crashes in New Mexico. Overall, the report states 1,791 people died in fatal crashes from 2008 to 2012. It states New Mexico’s overall traffic fatality rate in 2012 is 27 percent higher than the national average.
A member of the House Transportation Committee says he’s taking the report seriously, and hopes to address all the issues. “With this you know, this is our part where we have to come and look at projects and assistance from the technical part can be done for us to have us move forward in New Mexico,” said Democratic State Rep. Bobby Gonzales, of Taos County.
According to the report, if a lack of adequate revenue into the Federal Highway Trust Fund is not addressed by Congress, funding for highway and transit improvements in the state could be cut by $367 million for the federal fiscal year starting in October.
Gonzales said he plans on proposing a 5 cent gas tax increase on both gasoline and special fuel to help with funding.