by Marty Mayfield
RATON — New Mexico DOT and design contractors held a second meeting in Raton Tuesday evening at International Bank and presented to the public the preliminary recommendation for the construction project on I-25 from exit 454 to the top of the pass.
During the presentation, Derek Meier of Wilson and Company Inc., said option four was chosen for the final design for exit 460 at the top of Raton Pass. That design moves the overpass from the north side of the Port of Entry, 1,870 feet to the south.
Meier noted this design was chosen, based in part, on where the state line is in relationship to the old bridge. By moving the new overpass south, it will make room for longer deceleration and acceleration lanes for exiting and merging onto the travel lanes. This plan will also allow truck traffic and regular traffic more room to merge as they are getting on the interstate southbound.
Other parts of the project will include the reconstruction of the 454 exit and entrance ramps making them longer for easier merging onto the Interstate. Alternative two was chosen regarding rockfall mitigation, which will provide 95% coverage and trapping of falling rocks. The plan will also reduce some rock slopes and tie the rock together using rock anchors.
Another segment of the project will include an eight-foot high fence to prevent wildlife from crossing the Interstate in certain areas as well as build tunnels under the highway to facilitate animal crossing from one side to the other. New Mexico Game and Fish are working with design engineers to locate the box crossings and where best to place fencing.
The final design is expected to completed by the end of the year with the bids to be let in the spring, and construction projected to begin as early as next summer.