AZTEC — One of Aztec's top street repair priorities this year is Simonds Road, a partially paved two-block street that abuts Aztec Boulevard on the south side of the busy thoroughfare also known as N.M. 516.

The project will include the removal and replacement of the asphalt roadway; new curbs, gutters and sidewalk along the west side of the street; and improvements to drainage. The road lacks sidewalks except where some residents have built their own in the city's right of way.

Last week, Aztec City Commissioners approved $22,565 for design plans, including topographic design surveying for $3,700, a geotechnical report for $2,650, environmental studies required by the New Mexico Department of Transportation for $6,895 and final plans for $9,320.

Construction costs are estimated to run about $340,000. That work will be open for bidding next month.

Aztec Finance Manager Kathy Lamb said some of the funding will come from a local government road fund set up by the New Mexico Department of Transportation. That fund rotates among Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington so each city gets a more substantial contribution in its turn, she said.

"The funds that we have from the state (are) just under $130,000," Lamb said. "The balance of the costs will be paid by the city."

Geotechnical testing began last week. It will show the degree of subsurface work required and give the city a more detailed view of the ultimate construction costs, which, at this point, are "preliminary," Lamb said.

"When they redid the road several years ago, it start failing pretty quickly," Lamb said. "The geotechnical testing will help us see whether (drainage problems and street settling) are the result of a sewer line that didn't get proper compaction, subsurface water, or issues like those."

City Projects Manager Ed Kotyk said the road is a priority.

"It's likely going to be a total rebuild," Kotyk said. "It's a bad street in need of a lot of work, which qualifies it for state transportation funding."

Construction is expected to take eight weeks and to be completed before July 1st, the end of the city's fiscal year.

A public meeting for the 40 to 50 residences in the area that will be affected by the construction will be hosted by CHC Engineers, a Durango, Colo., firm in charge of the design portion of the project. A date for the hearing has not yet been set.

All roads were evaluated as part of the city's 10-year plan and Simonds was labeled as "poor," a ranking that pushed the road to the top of the city's priority repair and redesign list.

"It was one of the higher ranking poor quality streets," Kotyk said. "We evaluate the whole road and average them, and Simonds, from one end to the other, has the most problems overall."

Residents use the road to get to Aztec Boulevard. It also is the home of the Aztec Boys and Girls Club's Teen Center. Sidewalk will be installed on the west side of the street but the city's right of way does not allow for the same on the opposite side, Kotyk said.

"Part of the road at the southern end, between Riverview and Martin, has a lot of rutting, alligatoring, and an area we suspect that it's settled and the road is sinking. It's likely there (we) will remove all the asphalt in one section and six inches of under strata, Kotyk said.

"Projects like this are optimal in the summer due to the inconvenience that school traffic and traffic to and from the Teen Center represent," he said. "We want to inconvenience people as little as possible during the work."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4621 and Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.