Budget cuts may push back road projects

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Curry County Road Department employee Calvin Davis prepares to shut down a blade at the end of Wednesday’s shift. State budget cuts are cutting into road projects the county had planned for this year.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

Curry County may have to postpone some of its road projects after yet another cutback in state money — this time a $100,000 appropriations cut.

County Manager Lance Pyle said the state’s Transportation Department has reduced a more than $353,000 project allocation by nearly 30 percent.

The money was going to be used to put a hard surface on portions of Curry Roads K and 13.

Plans were to chipseal Curry Road K from Llano Estecado Boulevard to Curry Road 14 and Curry Road 13 (Wilhite Road), from K east to S.R. 209, Road Superintendent Chris Pacheco said.

But now, the road department estimates it will have enough money to improve Curry Road K and will have to postpone the upgrades to Curry Road 13 into next year.

“It will put us back a little bit because we will have to put (C.R) 13 to the next year’s priority (list),” Pacheco said.

“We’re just going to have to go back to the drawing board and get more money.”

Depending on fluctuations in material costs, Pacheco said the county may be able to stretch the money it has to do some of Curry Road 13 but he’s not optimistic.

Pyle said the cut is a consequence of a 25 percent reduction in the state road fund’s budget, another indication of the hard financial times faced by the state.

Curry County is already scrambling to replace $250,000 in appropriations it lost because of conflicting population counts.

Pyle said he has approached members of the local Congressional delegation trying to find federal money to continue with road plans.

“We’re going to have to come up with other means to do those improvements that are needed,” he said.

The road department is not financially self sufficient and this year alone, Pyle said the county has budgeted a transfer from the general fund of almost $880,000 to cover needed road projects and department expenses.

Pacheco said every year the county has a priority list of roads that are in need of repair or upgrade, with top attention given to mail and bus routes.

“In an idealistic world, we’d chipseal every road in the county, but there’s not enough money in the world for that,” he said.

With growing development in the county, Pacheco said an effort is being made to pave high traveled county roads, but it is costly and has to be done as the money is available.