New Mexico road package moves forward

| Thursday, November 06, 2003

The New Mexico Senate approved Gov. Bill Richardson’s $1.6 billion highway construction and repair package Wednesday, Nov. 5. The plan includes $60 million a year in fee and tax increases.

The 22-18 vote sent the bill back to the House for approval of Senate amendments before it heads to the governor, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

The package includes a hike in the state’s diesel fuel tax from 18 cents a gallon to 21 cents. The proposal increases vehicle registration fees by an average of $12.50 per vehicle and includes a 38 percent increase in the weight-distance tax. It would also require the state to process overweight permits for truck drivers within 24 hours.

Prior to the Senate’s passage of the bill, Richardson told the newspaper the increases would mainly affect out-of-state truckers.

“I think they’re reasonable fee increases,” he said. “These trucks, out-of-state trucks, are damaging our highways. They’re welcome here, but they should pay more.”

Thirty-nine road projects are proposed in the plan, funded by additional dollars the bill would generate. Those include:

  • Improvements on I-25 between Santa Fe and Bernalillo;
  • Reconstruction of the Coors Interchange along I-40 in Albuquerque;
  • Adding a third lane to I-25 in both directions between Albuquerque and Santa Fe; and
  • Stretching to four lanes U.S. 64 from Raton to Clayton.

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