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6:30am — Work on Widening I-10 To Start in January

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Expanding highway between Las Cruces and Texas gets OK after judge lifts ban.

Work on expanding Interstate 10 from four lanes to six from Las Cruces south to the Texas state line is expected to begin in early January, after a state district judge in Santa Fe dismissed a lawsuit earlier this week that was holding up the nearly $40 million project, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.

State District James Hall on Monday lifted a three-month stay on the project, which had been imposed after the original low bidder on the project, Fisher Sand and Gravel, asked for a halt while it tried to obtain more records on the bidding process, the Albuquerque Journal reported this week.

The New Mexico Department of Transportation argued that the project would have to be canceled if it was delayed beyond Dec. 1, the Journal reported.

According to the Sun-News, Hall ruled that there was no apparent wrongdoing in the state’s bidding process.

DOT spokeswoman Bridget Spedalieri told the Sun-News that highway officials wasted no time after Hall’s ruling to sign a contract with Mountain States Contractors Inc. of Albuquerque to do the project.

The project is expected to cost $36.2 million and will take about two years to complete, the Sun-News said.

More than 18 miles of I-10, from where the highway merges with Interstate 25 just south of Las Cruces, will be expanded from four lanes to six, relieving congestion on a stretch used by an estimated 12,000 Las Cruces commuters who travel daily to and from El Paso, the paper reported.

About 200 jobs will be created for subcontractors, suppliers and vendors working on the project, which is funded with a combination of $26.2 million from Gov. Bill Richardson’s Investment Partnership (GRIP) and $10 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Sun-News said.