The Fenton Lake bridge was reconstructed to meet safety regulations and widened to two lanes in order to support additional visitors and large recreational vehicles accessing the Fenton Lake state park. Sections of State Route 126 were also re-aligned and paved to improve driving conditions.
Project Type:Access Road Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:360 Length (mi):2.80
Economic Distress:0.96 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):30 Population Growth Rate (%):3.76
Employment Growth Rate (%):3.05 Market Size:195,258 Airport Travel Distance:51 Topography:12
Region:Southwest State:NM County:Sandoval
City:Jemez Springs Urban/Class Level:Rural Local Area:Jemez Springs
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:35.884380 / -106.723806
Initial Study Date:2005 Post Constr. Study Date:2008
Constr. Start Date:2005 Constr. End Date:2006
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2006 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):10,000,000 Actual Cost (curr $):11,555,407
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
Select a region to display the conditions for that region:
NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
|Income (in $M's)||0.31||0.01||0.32|
|Output (in $M's)||1.31||0.03||1.34|
Fenton Lake Park is a popular camping and fishing venue northwest of Albuquerque located in Sandoval County and accessed by Highway 126. The Fenton Lake Bridge that provided access to the park did not meet safety regulations and needed to be replaced. To accommodate both traffic from increased residential development and visitor traffic including large recreational vehicles, the bridge was rebuilt and widened into two lanes and sections of Highway 126 were re-aligned and paved on both sides of the bridge. The bridge was designed to have minimal impact on surrounding wetlands. Construction began in 2005 and was completed in 2006 at a cost of $10 million ($2006), of which $3 million was for the bridge. The project received a Federal Highway Administration Excellence in Design Program honorable mention award for projects under $10 million. An estimated 7 jobs have been created to serve an increase in visitors resulting from the transportation access improvements.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
Fenton Lake State Park is located in the Santa Fe National Forest, 33 miles northwest of San Ysidro via Highway 4 and Highway 126. The park is located north of Jemez Springs via Highway 4 and southeast of Cuba via NM 126. It is 72 miles west of Santa Fe via highway 285, 502, and 4. The nearest airport is Albuquerque International Sunport, located 73 miles south of the park on US 550 and I-25.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Fenton Lake State Park is located in Sandoval County and is surrounded by forests. It is a popular year round destination featuring campsites and wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms attracting summer visitors, and cross-country skiing and biathlon trails attracting winter visitors. The tiny town of Seven Springs (population less than 100) is approximately 1.5 miles north on Highway 126. Cuba, a town of 590 people, is 13.5 miles to the northwest.
The main industries in Cuba are educational services and construction. The town also has hotels and restaurants, which are frequented by tourists who come to visit Chaco Canyon. There are many large ranches and farms in the surrounding area. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the primary livestock raised. Cuba is also an ideal area for hunting and wildlife sighting. Eighteen miles to the south is Jemez Springs, population 445, and named for its famous mineral hot springs. Public administration and construction are the largest employment sectors in Jemez Springs.
The population in Jemez Springs grew 18.6% to 445 residents between 2000 and 2009. From 2005 to 2008 Sandoval County grew 15.86% to 122,465 residents and New Mexico by 3.68% to 1.98 million. Employment in Sandoval was 41,557 in 2008 while employment in Jemez Springs was only 120 in 2007. Between 2000 and 2007, employment in Jemez Springs decreased by 36.5%, while Sandoval County experienced rapid growth of 12.48% from 2005-2008. State employment grew by 4.9% from 2005-2008.
Highway 126 is primarily a dirt and gravel road that connects the town of Cuba to Highway 4. It was considered a fairly dangerous road in certain sections due to its narrow width and alignment. The wood bridge near the entrance to Fenton Lake Park was only 1.5 lanes (21 feet) wide, had a weight limit of 30 tons, which was unsafe for heavier vehicle traffic, and was severely deteriorating. Some areas along the roadwere very narrow and impassible during the winter. In 2000, an environmental impact analysis was conducted to determine how to improve Highway 126 and the bridge. Providing access to the growing number of private residences (many of them second homes) and accommodating increased visitor traffic, including larger recreational vehicles, were the motivations for the project.
The project consisted of two phases. Phase I, which included paving Highway 126 from mile marker 10 to mile marker 14 east of Cuba, was started and completed in 2005. Phase II construction was started and completed in 2006, and consisted of paving four miles of Highway 126 (from mile marker 26 to mile marker 30) west to Fenton Lake and included the construction of the bridge. Paving was done on both sides of the bridge to prevent further degradation of the Rio Cebolla from dirt washing into the stream during storms. The roadwork included upgrades to drainage, improvements in alignment, straitening of curves, and paving.
The bridge was designed to improve safety, span critical wetland habitat, provide big-game passage, and blend visually with the surrounding environment. The new bridge is 2 lanes wide, 650 feet long, and can support heavier vehicles. It is elevated over sensitive wetlands of the Rio Cebolla, which flows through the park. The bridge construction included pre-cast concrete piles that resulted in minimal assembly and did not require any additional corrosion protection for potential flaking and contamination of the wetlands.
The Fenton Lake Bridge Project was part of an overall corridor improvement project and was included in the regional Long Range Transportation Plan. Funding was available through the New Mexico Forest Highway Program. The entire project, including the road improvements, cost $10 million ($2006), of which $3 million was spent on the bridge. The project was constructed under the supervision of the Federal Lands highway division (located in Denver). The New Mexico Department of Transportation maintains the road and bridge.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Auto trips to the Fenton Lake State Park have increased by 5.2% since completion of the project.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
In 2006, 125,199 visitors came to the park. By 2009, visitation reached 131,708, an increase of over 6,500 visitors annually since completion of the roadway and bridge project. An estimated 25% of this increase can be attributed to the improved highway and bridge conditions. This translates into increased visitor spending within the park of $604,000 per year, supporting an estimated 7 jobs in the region.
In 2008, the State Route 126 and Fenton Lake Bridge project received an honorable mention citation under the FHWA's Excellence in Design Program for structures costing less than $10 million (however, according to with the project manager, the project did cost $10M). The location of the project within a state park and its remote location relative to economic centers have limited is economic impacts.
Federal Highway Administration Central Federal Lands Highway Division
New Mexico Department of Transportation
New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department
New Mexico Parks Department
Case study developed by Economic Development Research Group