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WSMR ramps now join US 70 in reopening after mudslides

us70-mudslide
NMDOT
Mudslide damage along U.S. 70 in southern New Mexico.

UPDATE, July 13: The New Mexico Department of Transportation reopened the U.S. Route 70 exit 170 on-and-off ramps to the White Sands Missile Range on Tuesday evening.

The ramp reopening about 7:15 p.m. came a full day after the San Augustine Pass was reopened. Both the highway and the ramps had been closed Sunday night due to severe flooding and mudslides after a powerful storm slammed the Las Cruces area. 

Even though the stretch of road and ramps impacted by the mudslides were now all back open, officials urged motorists to use caution as workers and heavy equipment would continue to be in the area throughout the rest of the week to make further roadway repairs.

RELATED STORY: Mudslides on Organ Mountains left drivers stuck for hours

UPDATE, July 12: Transportation officials on Monday evening reopened U.S. 70 from milepost 160 to 170, known as the San Augustine Pass, through southern New Mexico.

The announcement of the roadway's reopening came about 7:30 p.m. following a many-hours long cleanup effort due to mudslides.

However, NMDOT said the White Sands Missile Range entrance on and off ramps remained closed until further notice because water and debris was still blocking roadway access there.

ORIGINAL REPORT, July 12: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – After shutting it down Sunday night due to a massive storm that triggered severe flooding, the New Mexico Department of Transportation said Monday that U.S. Route 70 would remain closed due to mudslides that overwhelmed the highway stretch known as the San Augustine Pass.

The U.S. 70 closure through southern New Mexico was in effect from Nasa Road (milepost 161) in Las Cruces to the entrance at White Sands Missile Range (milepost 170). Transportation officials said detours were routing traffic to U.S. 54 and US 380.

They indicated U.S. 70 wouldn't reopen until late Monday at the earliest - and once it did, it was anticipated only one lane would be clear for use at reduced speeds for as long as a week.

Crews on Monday continued work with heavy equipment that began in the overnight hours to remove what authorities described as "tons of debris and mud" that covered the roadway. Images shared by NMDOT even showed a vehicle that was abandoned along the pass after it became trapped in a mudslide.

Barricades were up along U.S. 70 as those crews worked to clear it, and transportation officials urged motorists not to drive around those road blocks.

Article Topic Follows: Traffic

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

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