Learn more about the project by clicking on the “+” symbol to expand each topic.
The segment of US 180 starts at milepost 123 in Bayard and extends to milepost 161 just north of Keeler Road near Deming (view the project area map). This portion of US 180 consists of 2-lanes with 8-foot shoulders. There are no passing lanes and few intersections have left-turn lanes to allow turns to be made without stopping in the travel lanes. Improvements are being considered for three primary reasons:
- Between Bayard and Hurley, the combined volume of traffic and the high number of trucks reduces highway performance and results in safety conflicts with passing maneuvers
- The crash rate for the overall route is higher than statewide averages for similar highways
- The reverse curves (S-curve) across the railroad tracks in Hurley require an abrupt speed change and contribute to crashes
- Several intersections do not have adequate turn lanes, which contribute to crashes
- Pavement is in poor condition and in need of major rehabilitation
- Most drainage structures are in poor condition and some are undersized
The highway between Bayard and Hurley has the highest traffic volumes (about 6,500 vehicles per day) and the highest number of crashes within the project limits. This segment includes several prominent features including the rock cuts near Bayard (an engineering consideration); the overpass and main access in Hurley; the reverse curves (S-curve) across the railroad tracks; and the access road to the Airport. The railroad crossing in Hurley includes a reverse curve (S-curve) that forces vehicles to abruptly reduce their speed. Many crashes are reported at this location. The crossing is also at a sharp skew which limits driver visibility of approaching trains.
Traffic volumes decrease south of Hurley to less than 3,000 vehicles per day. The number of crashes also decreases, although there have been several crashes at the intersection of US 180 at NM 61. This intersection does not have adequate turn lanes. Southbound drivers must use the shoulder to avoid left-turning vehicles. A bridge over Cold Water Creek is in this section along with numerous other large drainage structures. These structures increase the cost and challenge of widening the highway. The culvert photo shows where the box culvert has been extended with corrugated metal pipe that cannot support loads if the roadway is widened.
Traffic volumes are low and there are fewer crashes in this section. A nine-span bridge over the Mimbres River is in this section. Water flows occasionally overtop this bridge during major rainstorms. Three roads intersect the highway in this section including the Butterfield Trail, which was active from 1858 to 1861.
The project area ends just north of Keeler Road where the highway widens to 4-lanes. This area includes several residential developments near the highway and begins to transition into the Town of Deming. Traffic volumes remain low but start to increase closer to Deming. Crashes are also generally low but also begin to increase. This area is prone to flooding during major storm events with occasional flooding that overtops the highway. Dust storms that severely limit visibility also occur in the area and can affect highway travel.
A public opinion survey conducted in December of 2020 resulted in about 840 responses, including 96% from people living in the project vicinity.
Key safety issues identified included:
Key highway concerns included:
Types of improvements desired:
The majority requested additional passing lanes, adding lanes, and turn lanes.
Three alternatives were considered in detail based on improvement needs:
- Enhanced 2-Lane: This concept focuses improvements on intersections and intermittent passing lanes to improve safety
- Super 2: This concept is similar to the Enhanced 2-Lane concept except that passing lanes continuously alternate
- Undivided 4-Lane: This is the same concept that exists on US 180 near Deming
For analysis purposes and due to substantial differences in traffic volumes, the project area was separated into three segments as shown on the map.
- Segment 1: Bayard to Carrasco Avenue (Hurley, about 4 miles)
- Segment 2: Carrasco Avenue to just south of the S-curves across the RR tracks (about 1.5 miles)
- Segment 3: From the S-curves to the end of the project (about 32 miles)
All alternatives include the following improvements:
- Pavement rehabilitation
- Shoulder widening
- Correcting the S-curve through the railroad tracks
- Intersection improvements at:
- North Hurley Road
- Pit Access Road
- Carrasco Avenue
- Airport Road
- NM 61
- Rest Area
For this alternative, passing lanes were not proposed between Bayard and the Southwestern Railroad crossing because of access conflicts and the short distance. This alternative would provide:
- Four, 2-mile long passing lanes in each direction south of Hurley, for a total of 8 miles of passing lanes in each direction.
- A passing lane would be provided every 6 miles in each direction.
This alternative would provide:
- Continuous alternating passing lanes south of Hurley. This results in a 3-lane cross-section.
- 7 passing lanes would be provided in each direction with varying lengths of 1.25 to 2 miles, for a total of 12.5 miles of passing lanes in each direction.
- This arrangement provides an opportunity to pass every 2 miles.
This alternative would:
- Reconstruct US 180 as a 4-lane undivided highway
- Provide two travel lanes in each direction
- Include a 6-foot paved median to separate opposing traffic
Alternatives were evaluated using several criteria:
- Operational Benefits: How well an alternative improves traffic flow and reduces safety risks
- Property Acquisition: How much property would be needed
- Cost: Cost to implement
- Community and Environmental Effects: How an alternative affects residents, communities, and the natural environment
- Public and Stakeholder Expectations: How an alternative meets expectations (as identified by the survey)
- Engineering Considerations: How drainage, bridges, major utilities, and intersections are affected
- Constructability: Complexity of rebuilding the roadway while maintaining traffic flows
Evaluation results that help to differentiate between the alternatives are summarized below.
- All alternatives provide significant improvement and achieve acceptable traffic operations
- The 4-Lane Alternative performs the best
- All alternatives provide significant benefits to driver safety
- The 4-Lane Alternative eliminates all passing maneuvers
- Travel speeds may increase with the 4-Lane Alternative resulting in more severe crashes when they occur
- Safety is improved at intersections with all alternatives
- Implementation of all alternatives would require the acquisition of private property to accommodate the highway
- No homes, businesses, or other structures would be affected
- Costs differ substantially between the three alternatives
- The wider pavement with the 4-Lane Alternative increases cost by almost $50 million over the Enhanced 2-Lane Alternative
Community effects would be minimal.
- No business, residences, or other buildings would be affected
- Bicyclists would be accommodated on the shoulders
- Shoulder width will provide a minimum of six-feet usable area for bicycles
- Six feet of usable shoulder area will be provided for bicyclists outside of the rumble strips
Environmental effects would be minimal.
- No effects to federally-listed species
- No impacts to critical habitat or wetlands
- Up to six archaeological sites may require investigation or collection
- Crashes between cars and wildlife (mostly deer) occur between Bayard and Hurley
- Options to mitigate conflicts with wildlife are limited
- Terrain and lack of existing structures is not conducive to crossings
- Active signage and a wider roadway would help
Design concepts to improve safety at the railroad crossing in Hurley are still being evaluated. View the three Hurley railroad crossing options being considered.
- Creates a wider curve that can be navigated at higher speeds
- Implementation would require relocation of a major gas line east of the highway
- Avoids the gas lines and can also be safely traveled at higher speeds
- However, increases the skew angle where the highway crosses the tracks, making it more difficult for southbound motorists to see approaching trains
- Safety is achieved by signals to warn motorists of approaching trains
- Follows a similar alignment as Option 2, but the highway is elevated above the railroad on a bridge to grade separate the highway and rail crossing
- The bridge increases costs and could be a visual intrusion to the residents to the east
Based on the analysis findings, the NMDOT recommends the following:
- Reconstruct US 180 as the Undivided 4-Lane concept from Bayard to just south of Carrasco Avenue in Hurley
- From the point south, reconstruct the highway using the Enhanced 2-Lane concept with passing lanes
- Total cost to construct the recommended concept is approximately $83 million to $88 million, depending on how the railroad crossing is treated
A final recommendation and decision will be made after public comments are received and considered.
Following are next steps:
- Corridor Study Phase: Decision on the preferred alternative will be made following the public comment period. This will complete the study phase (March 2021)
- Preliminary Design: Spring 2021
- Environmental Documentation: Spring 2021
- Final Design and Construction: To be determined, as funds for construction have not yet been secured and programmed