Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Carolyn Bonifas Kelly (703) 801-9212
Rocky Moretti (202) 262-0714

Click here for the full report, infographics and video interview footage with report authors.


Las Cruces, NM – A lack of sufficient transportation funding will make it difficult to adequately maintain and improve New Mexico’s existing transportation system. Increased investment in transportation improvements could relieve traffic congestion, improve road, bridge and transit conditions, boost safety, and support long-term economic growth in New Mexico, according to a new report released today by TRIP, a Washington, DC based national transportation research nonprofit.

The TRIP report finds 32 percent of major locally and state-maintained roads in the Las Cruces urban area are in poor condition and another 36 percent are in mediocre condition, costing the average motorist an additional $910 each year in extra vehicle operating costs, including accelerated vehicle depreciation, additional repair costs, and increased fuel consumption and tire wear. Statewide, 34 percent of New Mexico’s major roads are in poor condition and 22 percent are in mediocre condition.

New Mexico roads and bridges that are deteriorated, congested, or lack some desirable safety features cost the state’s motorists a total of $3 billion annually – $1,961 per driver in the Las Cruces urban area – due to higher vehicle operating costs, traffic crashes and congestion-related delays.

“It is critical that our state invest sufficiently in our transportation infrastructure to ensure that we keep our citizens safe and our economy growing,” said New Mexico State Representative Dayan Hochman- Vigil, chair of the New Mexico House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee.

The report includes regional pavement and bridge conditions, highway safety data, and cost breakdowns for the Albuquerque, Las Cruces and Santa Fe urban areas and statewide. A breakdown of the costs per motorist in the state’s largest urban areas, along with a statewide total, is below.

Traffic congestion in the Las Cruces urban area results in the average driver losing 19 hours annually in traffic delays and wasting nine gallons of fuel, costing the average Las Cruces driver $496 annually in lost time and wasted fuel. Statewide, New Mexico drivers lose $900 million annually as a result of lost time and wasted fuel due to traffic congestion.

“Our roads in rural and Tribal areas are so very critical to improve the economy of our state,” said New Mexico State Representative Benny Shendo, Jr., chair of the New Mexico State Senate Tax, Businesses and Transportation Committee. “Safe roads for our school busses are essential so that our children and families can be safe.”

Improvement and reconstruction projects statewide have been identified by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. While a total of $5.75 billion is needed for these projects, they remain unfunded. The list below includes needed projects in the Southwest New Mexico and Border Region. A list of projects statewide is included in the report.

The efficiency and condition of New Mexico’s transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state’s economy. Annually, $125 billion in goods are shipped to and from New Mexico, relying heavily on the state’s network of roads and bridges. The value of freight shipped to and from sites in New Mexico, in inflation-adjusted dollars, is expected to increase 59 percent by 2045.

“The best taxpayer money we can spend is on infrastructure and maintaining our roads in New Mexico,” said Ernie C’DeBaca, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce. “This promotes economic development opportunities, commerce and trade while connecting communities and creating well-paying jobs.” 

The level of highway investment is set to increase as a result of the five-year federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), signed into law in November 2021, which will provide $3.2 billion in road, highway and bridge funding from 2022 to 2026, resulting in a 35 percent increase in federal funding in 2022.

“Without adequate funding, New Mexico’s transportation system will become increasingly deteriorated and congested, hampering economic growth, safety and quality of life,” said Dave Kearby, TRIP’s executive director. “While additional federal funding from the IIJA will help New Mexico move forward with needed improvements to its transportation network that will make the state’s roads and bridges smoother, safer and more efficient while boosting the economy and creating jobs, the state will also need to provide an adequate and sustainable investment in its transportation network.”