The widening of 118 miles of N.M. 44 from San Ysidro to the Four Corners area is the biggest road project in New Mexico history. At a cost of $420 million, including financing, it is also the most expensive. The Johnson administration says its plan is so innovative it could change the way states handle highway construction projects. Critics call it a disaster in the making.
Journal investigative reporters found that highway officials jumped the project ahead of other needed road work and entered into a questionable warranty deal at a cost of $62 million. They also found that the only company to bid on the project was the one that proposed it in the first place.
This series originally appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on December 5-8, 12, 15 and 17, 1999, and January 4, 2000.
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Mike Gallagher, 45, became an investigative reporter in 1986.
Some of his investigative projects include stories on the deaths of patients at the state hospital for the disabled, drug trafficking along the Southwest border and problems in the state prison system
Last year, the Journal dispatched Mike on an unusual assignment: report and write on the problems in Russia.
A 14-year veteran of the Journal staff, Colleen joined the investigative team in 1996.
After moving here from the El Paso Times, she covered federal courts in New Mexico. That led to more in-depth reporting, such as the fatal shooting in 1988 of a Mountainair policeman.