As part of its long-term strategy for efficiently maintaining the 25,062 highway lane miles and 2,976 bridges under its jurisdiction, the New Mexico Department of Transportation compiled and released a 94-page Transportation Asset Management Plan or “TAMP” in mid-April that advocates for $40 million a year in bridge revitalization funding and $294 million annually for interstate and non-interstate pavement funding – monies aimed at keeping its $10.8 billion transportation network operating smoothly.
“The major purpose of the TAMP is to show the impacts of various investment levels on system performance,” explained Tom Church, New Mexico’s Transportation Cabinet Secretary, in the report. “This will enable policy makers to better understand predicted impacts of funding options they may be considering. It will also allow our public to clearly see the benefits of investment.”
For NMDOT, the TAMP ensures “better operation, increased maintenance, and overall improvement of physical assets through a process of continuous improvement,” he noted, by better locating and understanding performance gaps, prioritizing and programming asset needs, and streamlining business processes.
The agency points out in its report that several trends are poised to put more stress on New Mexico’s transportation system over the next decade or so:
When it comes to maintaining New Mexico’s network of bridges and roads, two different funding plans are being put forth by NMDOT in its TAMP.
Where bridges are concerned, the agency said $24.5 million per year is the minimum needed to the number of structures in “poor condition” from exceeding 10 percent over the next decade. Alternatively, if $40 million was invested annually in its bridges that 10-year span, the number of bridges in poor condition could be held to five percent, NMDOT noted.
The agency added that the percentage of total bridge deck area deemed “structurally deficient” within its transportation system – a term that does not mean such bridges are unsafe, NMDOT stressed, but rather that extra maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement is required – has decreased from 16 percent in 2004 to five percent in 2016.
Where highways are concerned, in order to maintain the “good sections” at current conditions, $62 million per year for interstate pavements and $68 million per year for non-interstate pavements – for a total of $130 million annually – is needed.
Yet NMDOT argues within its report that if highway funding were boosted to $81.5 million per year for interstate pavements and $212.5 million per year for non-interstate pavements – for a total of $294 million per year – pavements in good condition would increase by 20 percent, while pavements in poor condition would drop 13 percent, all relative to expected performance at current investment levels.