NMDOT property overtaken by weeds

[anvplayer video=”5132923″ station=”998122″]

BELEN, N.M. – A major bridge and railroad project in Belen has been in the works for years. While crews have yet to break ground, the New Mexico Department of Transportation has already acquired multiple properties near the BNSF Railway.

Some residents claim the properties’ lack of maintenance is becoming an issue.

“They can’t get it done soon enough, as far as I’m concerned,” said Belen local, Steve Ferguson.

According to NMDOT, the $14.5 million project, in partnership with BNSF, will replace the NM 109 railroad crossing and tracks at the east end of BNSF’s yard in Belen. It will also add eight additional sets of tracks. Transportation officials told KOB 4 an increase in traffic inspired the changes. They specifically hope this will help free up the roads for first responders.

“There are several times where the trains have been blocking the railroad, and I know that there’s been a couple of deaths because the emergency vehicles couldn’t get through,” Ferguson said.

While he welcomes the progress, Ferguson said he has not seen any. NMDOT said it plans to demolish the houses it acquired about two years ago, this November. The actual project will not begin until next summer.

“I’m upset with the fact that they have done nothing to mitigate the weeds on these properties,” Ferguson said. “Right now, behind me is the first house that needs to go, but if you can see the weed condition here, you can barely see the houses.”

Some weeds stand as tall as 10 feet.

“How would you like to be next to these houses with the weeds covered up to the roof?” Ferguson said.

He believes the weeds are so tall now, they are also contributing to crime in the area.

“It’s terrible, I mean, you know, this used to be a nice little stretch of road here,” he said. “All these houses from this one, all the way down to Trujillo road have all been broken into—been stealing copper and stuff out of them.”

NMDOT said it has already let its property management section know about the weeds. Transportation officials encourage residents to reach out through the NMDOT website or call the district office at 505-934-0354, if problems persist.