Country life marred by bad roads

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The charms of country life are instantly evident. The German Shepard pads around the yard regally. There is no leash to restrict his movements, so he follows closely behind three tow-headed children. A little girl sits on the cement steps, under a big, blue sky, and her brothers run across the grass.

But according to the mother of the three children, country life has its drawbacks — enough to warrant the family’s construction of a new home closer to a major highway.

“The vehicles get dusty and dirty. If it rains too much, we can’t go south, which increases the distance to town. Our car would just get stuck in the mud,” Shelley Bridges said from her ranch-style home, located off Curry Road 10 near the Texico city line.

For the family, the school year only brings more problems. The Bridges say buses often have trouble getting down the unpaved roads.

Trevor Bridges, an 11-year-old student enrolled in the Texico junior high school, remembered when “another bus came to try to pull our bus out of the mud. But that bus got stuck, too. Then a truck came, and tried to pull the bus out, but the truck got stuck, too.”

Curry County Manager Dick Smith said about 40 students along the dirt road were unable to make it school last year due to inclement weather.

The road is one of three the county hopes will get a face lift through Gov. Bill Richardson’s Investment Partnership (GRIP), a $1.6 billion statewide transportation expansion and infrastructure improvement project. Before distributing funds to the most worthy projects, New Mexico cities and counties were given the opportunity to submit three road improvement projects to the state. Curry County officials chose CR 4, CR 3, and CR 10.

The county hopes to chip seal three miles of the road near the Bridges’ property. If they receive state GRIP funding, they will add two alternating layers of oil and rock to the road, Curry County Road Superintendent Danny Davis said.

Each road project the county submitted would be upgraded in the same manner. Davis said asphalt roads, although more durable, can cost millions of dollars, making chip sealing a more economic choice. The CR 10 project, he said, would cost $288,411.

“They (residents) would like to see it upgraded. That is the road that the Texico school district uses to pick up students. It would give them a good, all-purpose road,” Davis said.

Texico Schools Superintendent R.L. Richards could not be reached for comment.

“I think we have a good shot at getting the funding. We chose roads that are vital to the county,” Davis said.

Fast facts
• Although Curry County is the second-smallest county in New Mexico, due to the extensive farming community, it has ranked fifth among all state counties for most maintained roads and most intersections.

Other roads county officials hope will be revamped by GRIP:

• County Road 4 — The state hopes to pave 9 miles of the road that leads to the new cheese plant. Officials say it would give truckers an all-purpose route to navigate. It would cost $659,479 to chip seal.

• County Road 3 — This road also leads to the new cheese plant. The county hopes to chip seal 9 miles of the road for $599,571.

Source: Danny Davis, Curry County Road Superintendent