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Civil engineers to evaluate New Mexico's infrastructure

Over the next few months, a group of volunteer civil engineers will assess the status of important systems such as bridges, water and airports, to develop the 2012 report card for New Mexico's infrastructure. The group is led by Sonya Cooper, engineering technology professor at New Mexico State University and vice president of the New Mexico Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the group responsible for the report card.

"Everyone depends upon the infrastructure every day," Cooper said. "Nationally, our infrastructure is not in great shape. It's a big problem that really does 'take a village' to remedy."

On its first report card issued by ASCE in 2005, New Mexico earned a cumulative grade of C, compared to the national average of D+. Included in the report card were scores for aviation, flood control, rail, roads, schools, solid waste and transit. The 2012 report also will include scores for bridges, drinking water and wastewater.

The report card will be provided to New Mexico's legislators as a leveraging tool procure funding for infrastructure projects. It will be used to raise public awareness as well.

"Both Sen. [Jeff] Bingaman and Sen. [Tom] Udall were very interested in getting an update to the New Mexico Report Card. They are familiar with our past effort and appreciated its usefulness, but they need it to be updated," said Jerry Paz, NMSU engineering alumnus and president of the New Mexico Section of ASCE, who attended the ASCE Fly-In in Washington, D.C. this past spring.
Cooper appointed professional civil engineers who are experts in each of the 10 infrastructure categories to lead the evaluations. They will assess infrastructure in 25 cities and in Cibola, De Baca, Harding, Luna and Roosevelt counties.

"We tried to make sure that all quadrants of the state were covered," Cooper said. "We also selected leaders who would have access to the information needed from the various community and county agencies."

Each infrastructure category will be evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety and resilience. The final report also will include a plan for prioritizing and funding necessary maintenance and repairs as well as for new construction.

Cooper anticipates there will be good news in several areas.

"Our state has a robust bridge inspection schedule, thanks in part to our outstanding Bridge Inspection Program here at NMSU. This will weigh favorably when assigning that grade," she said. "New Mexico has done a lot of work on its levees, so they should be in good order. The mid-region has a 2035 Metropolitan Transportation Plan in place. So there are some very good tools in place that help keep our systems in good shape."

Lead evaluators:
? Aviation: Jane M. Lucero (N.M. Aviation Division)
? Bridges: Ken White (N.M. Department of Transportation Commissioner)
? Drinking Water: Tim Cynova (Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority)
? Flood Control: J. Philip King (Elephant Butte Irrigation District; NMSU Department of Civil Engineering)
? Rail: Steven Metro (Wilson & Company)
? Roads: Ruinian Jiang (NMSU Department of Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering)
? Schools: Kenny Stevens (NMSU Department of Engineering Technology and Surveying Engineering)
? Solid Waste: Jack Chapelle (Engineering Solutions & Design, Inc.)
? Transit: Ajay Singh (Lee Engineering)
? Wastewater: Walter Hines (Water Resources Engineer)

For more information on the ASCE infrastructure report card, visit www.asce.org/reportcard.