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On Feb. 28, representatives from the New Mexico Department of Transportation, held a public input meeting and to announce changes made to the proposal on the New Mexico 90 Hudson Street Bridge, which is slated to be demolished and replaced in 2014.

Tisha Lujan, NMDOT project development engineer out of the Las Cruces office, gave the same PowerPoint presentation as at an earlier meeting.

It listed the local stakeholders as Silver City, Grant County businesses and local residents.
"The project purpose is to replace the bridge, improve vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle access," Lujan said. "The bridge is at the end of its useful life.

"We will demolish the existing bridge and construct a new wide four-span bridge, with bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge," she continued. "We are not lowering the bridge, but it is thicker than the existing bridge. It is high enough to withstand a 500-year flood."

Also included on the new bridge will be pedestrian screening, lighting upgrades, sign replacement, pavement and striping improvements, electrical improvements, as well as new bridge aesthetics.

"You will have no bridge for a while," Lujan said. "People will have to go around. The Cooper-Broadway route is not a good option for large vehicular traffic. The detour from the south will take the Truck Bypass route to U.S. 10 West and then into Silver City."

Acceleration and deceleration lanes will be installed where the truck bypass road meets U.S. 180 West. Lujan said the contractor would fix any potholes on the detour route that occur during construction, and would do an overlay on the bypass road after construction is completed. The detour is about five miles from NM 90 to its connection to 180 at Hudson Street.

A Tyrone resident expressed that there is likely to be traffic backups at the light at the intersection by Sonic.

"We are not anticipating backups," Lujan said, "but we will adjust the traffic lights timing, as needed."

Lujan explained that the NMDOT does not have time or funding to fix right-of-way issues at the intersection of the bypass road and 180.

"We are still in the design stage," she said. "The plans are due in November of this year. We will let bids by January, and developing the contracts will take a few months. We hope to begin construction mid- to late-April."

An audience member asked who would set the speed limits on the detour route.

Harold Love, NMDOT engineering support manager, said NMDOT District 1 would set the speed limits. "Once we make it the detour route, we will choose the appropriate speed limits."

A question was asked about the Wind Canyon Fire Station near the Bypass and 180 intersection and whether there would be any water outages or ingress/egress problems.

"We do not anticipate any lane closures or water outages," Lujan said. "We know the traffic counts on NM 90, so we figure 90 percent of the traffic would route itself through the detour.

"Yes, it will be a big inconvenience, and you'll have to wait longer at lights and to turn," Lujan confirmed.

About the cost Lujan said it would have cost more to repair the bridge than to demolish and rebuild it. "It is structurally deficient."

Sherman Peterson, bridge design engineer, repairs would have required a total replacement of the deck, as well as adding girder lines, piers and abutments, which would have cost $170 per square foot, as opposed to about $100 a square foot for replacement. The whole project is budgeted at $12 million.

The existing bridge is 487 square feet and the new will be 530 square feet.

"We have to deal with the environment, open space and trails under the bridge," Lujan said.
An audience member asked who initiated the decision.

Love said District 1 keeps a bridge deficiency list and "over time, bridges rise to the top and need replacement."

Peterson said the bridge is being designed to a 75-year life. "It has already been the topic of numerous patching projects with new concrete, which you can easily see from below the bridge."

A question was asked about the lighting. "The lights will point downward by dark skies legislation," Lujan said.

"What about turning left intothe hardware store across from Sonic?" the same woman asked. "I was taught not to turn across double yellow lines, but people do it there all the time. Police need to enforce it."

Lujan said the comments should be made to the town of Silver City.

Another member of the audience asked if anything could be done with the intersection with the light where U.S. 180 turns right onto Pope Street or left onto Silver Heights.

Love confirmed the intersection is a problem that has not yet been addressed, and a roundabout is off the agenda for the moment.

Trent Botkin from the NMDOT environment office said he and the department are in talks with the town of Silver City regarding the trailhead under the bridge. "The city has an agreement with the railroad to use the access, but it is not a city street. The trailhead will be closed temporarily during construction, but you can keep going on Mill Street to the unofficial access, which is still in the railroad easement.  We're hoping there can be a temporary parking area there for access to the trail."

Love said the roadway would be blocked right at the bridge, and for those wanting to access Border Area Mental Health Services from the north, they will be required to go around the construction area.

"We have Griffin's Propane covered, with a gate and a sloped driveway under the bridge for access," Lujan said.

A question was asked about increased truck traffic.

"We will put signage up in Deming and Lordsburg about the detour route," Lujan said.

"We will do traffic counts, also," Love said.

What about an environmentally responsible manner of disposing of old bridge materials, a resident asked.

Lujan said it would be up to the contractor. "On Interstate 25, the material was ground up and used as base course."

To a question about oversized loads and large trucks, Lujan confirmed that mining trucks will continue in the area, and oversize loads must be permitted.

More public meetings will be held before the final design is completed, Lujan said. The first meeting held led to having bicycle lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge, which will have two 12-foot wide lanes in each direction.

After the meeting, county resident James Baldwin talked to Peterson, originally from Silver City, who told him just the bridge construction would cost $6.5 million, with other costs for demolition and rehabilitation of the detour route post-construction. He did not have firm numbers on what repairs would have cost.

Peterson told him the bridge deck is deteriorating. The beams, which are recyclable, rest on piers in the ground. On the low end of the bridge, rock is giving away underneath the approach. Foam sealer has been injected, but it should be done more often. Peterson also confirmed there are structural problems with the abutments on the south side of the bridge, and there are plans to go down to bedrock.

Live from Silver City

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