Valencia County commissioners approved the 2025-29 prioritized list of capital projects, which consisted of repeat requests, some new projects and support for other agencies.

The county’s Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan consists of projects ranging from road improvements to building improvements.

The top 5 projects on the list total $60,750,000 in requests for 2025 alone.

First on the list is a community center for the Highland Meadows area, which is in the far northwest corner of the county, about 40 miles west of the village of Los Lunas. The county is requesting $750,000 for 2025, with the project’s total estimated at $3,750,000.

The center was first added to the ICIP list in 2020. At that time, former commissioner Tom Mraz made inquiries with county staff and found there was an acre of property the county owned on N.M. 6 in Highland Meadows, adjacent to the existing fire station, which could be used for the center.

The second priority is $50 million total, spread out over five years in $10 million increments, for multipurpose parks throughout the county.

A request for $10 million for 2025 to create a Valencia County flood protection plan is on the list at No. 3. After another devastating flood in 2021, local officials began discussing forming a local flood authority. While the authority, and accompanying taxing authority, hasn’t been formed, there is still a need for mitigation infrastructure and plans.

A brand new project is slotted at No. 4 — an extension of Interstate 25 from N.M. 47 to Manzano Expressway on the county’s east side.

Valencia County public works director Lina Benavidez said the funding request is to study the feasibility of such a roadway and begin planning.

“This would be a continuation of the Los Lunas interchange project,” Benavidez said. “We’ve been discussing it internally for quite some time and the commission felt this was the time to start looking at this, since construction is due to start for the Los Lunas project.”

Construction of the I-25 interchange project, which will build a limited-access, four-lane highway from the interstate east to N.M. 314, then crossing the river and connecting with N.M. 47 near Otero Road.

Manzano Expressway is about 3.5 miles further east using existing roads, according to Google maps. The expressway starts at Meadow Lake Road and then runs south/southwest for about 17 miles before it connects to N.M. 47 at the Belen river bridge on it’s southern end.

The ICIP request for the possible connecting road is $20 million a  year for the next five years, totaling $100 million.

The No. 5 request from the county is $20 million for 2025 to support the village of Los Lunas’ request for funding for an indoor aquatic center.

The commissioners also approved capital outlay requests for the county’s Older Americans Program for the 2024-28 capital outlay funding cycle, which is separate from the other capital requests.

The first priority on the list is for $850,000 for the second phase of renovations of the Del Rio Senior Center in the city of Rio Communities. The funding is slated for a kitchen expansion, the addition of a walk-in refrigerator and freezer, restroom and main entrance renovations and flooring replacement.

At No. 2 was $150,000 for stucco at the Belen Senior Center and upgrades to the building’s combi unit, a type of boiler that can provide both hot water and central heating in the same system.

A request for exercise equipment at the Meadow Lake Senior Center was No. 3 on the list, with no specified dollar amount, and rounding out the requests was $600,000 for an estimated 3,000 square-foot senior center in Highland Meadows.

Both lists will be submitted to the state Legislature and considered for funding during the 2024 legislative 60-day session, which starts on Jan. 16.

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Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.