Oil boom creating traffic problems in Eddy County

Posted at: 07/09/2013 6:50 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Eddy County in Southeast New Mexico isn’t known for traffic problems until now. The oil industry is booming, add in normal truck traffic and you have a problem law enforcement is cruising to solve.

The biggest challenge for drivers and law enforcement is rush hour.

"If you live in Eddy County you know between 5:00 in the evening and 7:00 in the morning it is hard to get anywhere," said Lieutenant James Page with the Eddy County Sheriff Department.  Page says they have increased patrols to keep up.  "I think we're doing a good job, just trying to keep pace to this ever expanding field.”

The Sheriff’s Department got a $20,000 grant just to manage traffic in the oil fields.

"The increase in traffic is exponential from what it was 10 years ago," said Page.

They’re putting more deputies on patrol in those areas especially during peak times.  The department has logged 289 hours of overtime patrols this year with over 500 tickets issued during those hours.

"Some days it is nonstop from the time we come in to when go home at night, it can be crash after crash," said Page.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has also started an initiative to help make highways safer.

"We're working to see how we can reduce accidents in SE New Mexico," said Susan Scott, the Deputy Manager of Communications at WIPP.

WIPP lost two employees last year in car accidents and have been holding meetings with the Sheriff Department all year to make roadways safer.

"Our economy is very good, we're happy about that but anytime your economy is good you also have increased traffic," said Scott.

A boom in business with a boom in safety patrols.

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