New Mexico highway bill headed to governor

| Thursday, November 13, 2003

A bill in New Mexico to finance $1.6 billion in highway construction and repairs is heading to Gov. Bill Richardson for approval. The plan includes $60 million a year in fee and tax increases.

The plan won final approval Nov. 5 when the House voted 39-29 to accept a Senate-passed version of the highway-financing package, Albuquerque’s KOB TV reported.

The highway measure will raise the state’s diesel tax from 18 cents a gallon to 21 cents. The proposal increases vehicle registration fees by 33 percent and imposes a 38 percent increase in the weight-distance tax. It also would require the state to process overweight permits for truck drivers within 24 hours.

Prior to the bill’s passage, Richardson told The Santa Fe New Mexican 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 U.S. 64 from Raton to Clayton to four lanes.