Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
November 16, 1998
I-20 detour to continue through Wednesday
By JON FULBRIGHT
Texas Department of Transportation officials had to create a
detour around a detour on Interstate 20 early Friday
afternoon, forcing easbound motorists to add 25 miles on
their drive through Reeves County for the past three days.
The main lanes of I-20 were closed eastbound between mile
marker 3 and 10 early Thursday morning, after problems with
resurfacing of the highway caused rocks and strips of new
ashpalt to be picked up by passing trucks. The rocks and
asphalt were carried in the truck tires for up to 30 miles,
before being thrown free and into the path of any trailing
Traffic was at first detoured onto the I-20 south service
road, but that plan had to be abandoned around noon on
Friday when that surface also began to fail, according to
TxDOT spokesman Glen Larum.
"The road just wasn't built to handle all that truck
traffic," Larum said. "We had crews out there trying to
patch the potholes, but it just got to be too much."
As a result, traffic was detoured at the I-10/I-20 junction
in western Reeves County onto I-10 for 25 miles, to the
State Highway 17 exit at Saragosa, and from there northbound
on Highway 17 to Pecos.
According to Larum, repair work on the interstate is
continuing, and the road should be reopened to eastbound
traffic by the middle of this week. "Our hope is we can
reopen it by Wednesday. It may be a combination of the main
lanes and the service road or a short service road detour,"
Traffic headed east from El Paso also has the option of
taking U.S. 62-180, FM 652 and U.S. 285 through Guadalpue
Pass to Pecos, which is a two-lane highway but is the same
distance as the normal interstate route.
Larum said I-20 might stay closed until Thursday, depending
on weather conditions. Rain on Thursday and Friday delayed
an early start to the project.
Resurfacing work has been going on for the past month from
the Reeves-Jeff Davis County line on I-10 through the
junction and east to mile marker 10 in I-20. was in charge
of the project, Larum said last week. Gilbert-Texas
Construction of Fort Worth had seal coated the eastbound
lanes on Tuesday just before a drop in temperatures in the
area near the junction apparently caused the rock and
asphalt to seperate.
"I talked to (TxDOT Engineer) Doug Eichorst. He said the
rock shelled out of the seal coat and was picked up in the
wheels of trucks," Larum said on Friday. "They also went
over some newly surfaced road, and the clumps either pulled
up strips of asphalt or dropped the globs on the surface,
and when the maintainer tried to knock the globs off it took
some of the pavement, too."
Larum reminded local drivers traveling Highway 17 between
Interstates 10 and 20 to be careful over the next several
days, due to the increased amount of northbound traffic on
Feds, N.M. settle Pecos water battle
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) -- A water lease agreement between New
Mexico and federal officials will ease tensions over
management of the lower Pecos River for a threatened fish
called the Pecos bluntnose shiner.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will lease water from the
state to make up for losses created when the bureau
increases river flows this winter to prevent harm to the
``We have a lease. They're complying with state law,'' Tom
Turney, New Mexico state engineer, said Friday.
Turney on Oct. 30 had said the bureau's plans to increase
Pecos water flow this winter without first securing new
water rights could shortchange farmers.
He also had said the plans could reduce New Mexico's
court-ordered water deliveries to Texas.
Jim Ed Miller, general manager for Red Bluff Water Power
Control District, said this morning he has not talked with
anyone about the plans and doesn't know how it may affect
water flows in the Pecos River below Carlsbad, N.M.
Red Bluff board members, during their Nov. 9 meeting, voiced
their concerns about how the Bureau of Reclamation's water
release plans would affect the water released by New Mexico
into Red Bluff Lake. Board president Randall Hartman said
the government was looking to create a less-regular flow
downstream, in order to improve spawning of the bluntnose
The Pecos bluntnose shiner lives in the Pecos from Fort
Sumner to the Major Johnson Spring in Eddy County.
The shiner's numbers have dwindled because of drought and
dams diverting river water for irrigation. The shiner
population took a nosedive a decade ago when parts of the
Pecos went dry for a week.
Under the agreement, flow on the Pecos could drop below 35
cubic feet per second as early as Monday.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists believe 35 cubic
feet per second is the minimum for preserving at least 60
miles of critical habitat for the fish.
But as soon as the river dips below 35 cubic feet per second
at the lower end of the minnow's habitat, bureau officials
will take control of the agency's Fort Sumner Dam from the
Carlsbad Irrigation District and open the dam's gates to
unleash more water.
The additional flow -- roughly four times the river's
typical winter flow -- will mean more water is lost to
evaporation and seepage into the river channel.
The bureau plans to make up the losses at first with water
leased from the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission at
$106 an acre-foot -- about what the state pays for the
An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover 1 acre
with 1 foot of water.
The bureau soon will ask Turney for permission to use a
second source of water -- the bureau's artesia well above
Brantley Reservoir -- to make up the losses.
Any water user in New Mexico must apply to the state
engineer whenever the location or use of a water right is
Bureau officials vowed to ``make the river whole,'' easing
state concerns that the losses would hurt Carlsbad-area
irrigation farmers and cause New Mexico to violate its water
deliveries to Texas.
The U.S. Supreme Court found in 1983 that New Mexico was
shortchanging Texas by 10,000 acre feet a year. An acre foot
is the amount of water needed to cover 1 acre with 1 foot of
The settlement was finalized in 1989, when New Mexico paid
Texas $14 million and spent another $20 million leasing and
retiring water rights from Pecos Valley farmers to ensure
sufficient water runs into Texas.
New Mexico now is meeting its obligations to Texas.
High Friday 57; Saturday 74; Sunday 74. Lows 40, 43, 45.
Tonight, fair. Lows 40 to 45. Light winds. Tuesday, mostly
sunny. Highs in the mid 70s. South to southeast winds 5-15
Ned Cantwell, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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Copyright 1998 by Pecos Enterprise