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Question: Is the city aware of the mess it’s going to cause if the intersection of 13th and Hermosa is closed during the fair?

Answer: In short, yes. But City of Artesia Infrastructure Director Byron Landfair says there’s nothing the city can do at this point to change the timing of the final phase of its extensive 13th Street Reconstruction Project.

Artesians began contacting the Daily Press last week regarding Phase V, which is scheduled to begin Monday, June 19, and continue through Friday, Dec. 22.

The phase – which will bring an end to a project the city began in October 2013 on the portion of 13th north of Main Street – will run from the intersection of Clayton Avenue and 13th to the alley just south  of Hermosa Drive… meaning the intersection of 13th and Hermosa will be inaccessible during its most-utilized time of year: Eddy County Fair time.

Some citizens were simply frustrated with the timing. Why would the city schedule the phase during the fair? And since the project has already been going on for nearly four years, what would it hurt to push the final phase back a month?

The city’s pocketbook, for one, Landfair says.

Landfair says the start and completion dates of the project’s phases are under contract.

“It’s better for them to complete the project than to have them leave the project, costing the city more money in the long run,” he said.

Other Artesians, particularly residents of Fairgrounds Road, said they consider the closure to be a safety issue.

With the intersection closed, fair-goers and participants will have no other recourse but to drive west to 26th Street or east to U.S. 285, south to Fairgrounds Road, then back east or west until they reach the fair.

The time added to the trip will likely put many drivers in the speeding mood, the residents said, which will cause a safety hazard and potential for accidents.

Still other callers, primarily fair participants, said they would be much less likely this year to enter Artesia proper during the fair due to the inconvenient routes, meaning their dollars will not be spent in local restaurants and shops.

Landfair says he sympathizes with all of the above-listed concerns but that there is simply nothing the city can do to delay the project.

“There’s no good time to do any of this type of work,” Landfair said. “It always falls somewhere in the middle of something, because we’re a community that’s always doing something.

“We moved the schedule around a little bit to accommodate some other stuff on the front end, but this is the tail end of the project, and we have to get it done.”

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