Talon News - Good Local News



January 18, 2019


by Jacque Ritchie, TALON

After almost two decades of discussion and debate the Aztec East Arterial (AEA) is closer to becoming reality. According to City Manager Steve Mueller the final piece of land has recently been purchased for an estimated $12,500 from a local landowner. Funding for the land purchase came out of the city’s general fund. Construction on Phase 2 of the long-anticipated truck route will, “...enter the bidding process, some time this spring.”

“We have Phase 1 completed, that’s Phase 1 A and 1 B... so basically the beginning and the end of the road are already done.” Mueller explained that Phase 2 includes the construction and paving of roughly a one mile section of road connecting with the two already finished sections. Mueller declined to ‘guess-timate’ on when actual construction will begin, “that will depend on the bid process.”

The bid process consists of advertising for a contractor to do the work, “It will be advertised and we’ll have pre-construction meetings (with prospective contractors) and all that good stuff, we’ll lay out what our expectation is, then they will come back with bids and we’ll go from there.” Mueller said he hoped the project would mean temporary jobs for some local folks, but declined to speculate saying, “Again, that really depends on what happens with the bidding process and who gets the contract and how they are set up.”

The AEA begins south of town on the east side of U.S. Highway 550 directly across from the Presidential Inn and Suites. AEA will circle around north of Aztec passing between Tiger Pond and the Tiger Sports Complex and ultimately intersect with New Mexico State Rode 173 (Navajo Dam road) which hooks up with 550 just north of town. The goal is to detour big truck traffic around the downtown area which will hopefully make downtown Aztec safer and more pedestrian and small business friendly.

Detractors of the plan believe, not only big trucks will use the route but tourists will also by-pass town taking their dollars with them. According to the city’s Albuquerque based consulting firm, Consensus Planning, attractive well-placed signage that invites travelers to visit historic downtown Aztec may keep the tourist traffic flowing through town.

Federal state and local funding has been utilized and is still needed to complete the project. Mueller said, “The projected cost is around 12 million to complete...with legislative funding coming to around 4.6 million, federal and DOT (money) is right at 3.5 million, the city has a million into the mix, so we are going to need a re-appropriation of the current funding from the legislators and then hopefully some additional money, because construction costs do tend to increase over time. These are just estimates, we won’t have a final number until we get the bid process done.”

Going forward Mueller said, “I think it’s gonna be a positive thing, the whole thing of taking some of the heavier truck traffic off Main Street and allowing a more pedestrian friendly atmosphere downtown will promote more business and allow existing businesses to flourish...Our goal right now is to just get the arterial built and whatever happens after that, I guess we will see...we just want to make sure everybody has the best use of everything we’ve got down there.”


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