¿Qué Pasa? NMDOT employee newsletter July—December 2023

Snow drops onto La Bajada as traffic navigates a wet I-25. Prepare your vehicles for the winter and always use caution while driving in inclement weather. —Photo by Jake Schoellkopf

Top story

NMDOT unveils winter ENDWI campaign

“The ENDWI campaign has worked tirelessly to reduce the number of drunk driving related crashes and fatalities by promoting designated drivers, safe rides, and responsible alcohol consumption. The current preliminary data shows that New Mexico is making strides in reducing alcohol related crashes and fatalities.” —Transportation Secretary Ricky Serna

NMDOT released a winter ENDWI campaign. The campaign included television, radio, billboard, digital advertising, and social media promotions. In 2022, New Mexico witnessed 154 fatalities in alcohol-related crashes. These alcohol-related fatalities comprised 37 percent of all fatal crashes in the state. During the same year, there were a total of 2,233 crashes involving alcohol. Among these crashes, 945 individuals sustained injuries. Law enforcement made 8,329 DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) arrests in 2022. During 2022, there were a total of 2,233 crashes involving alcohol, 945 individuals sustained injuries.

‘Take a Ride on Us’ Collaborative DWI Prevention In 2017, the NMDOT partnered with Cumulus Media’s radio stations and UBER to create the ‘Take a Ride on Us’ program. Today, the partnership has grown to include Bernalillo County Behavioral Health Services, Sandoval County DWI Planning and other corporate sponsors. ‘Take a Ride on Us’ has provided more than 40,000 safe rides home to New Mexicans living in the Albuquerque metro area who choose not to drink and drive.


Winter has arrived

“Anytime they are predicting snow in New Mexico, Cuba usually gets some.” —Patrol Supervisor Manuel Lucero

We catch up with the busy Cuba Patrol during a shift change. Patrol Supervisor Manuel Lucero explains how this crew of seven battles the snow and icy roads along U.S. 550 and the surrounding area in District Six.


The Regional Transportation Management Center is the hub for making New Mexico roadways safer and more efficient. Intelligent Transportation Systems Chief of Operations Charles Remkes explains how video monitoring and quick communications, through NM Roads and message boards, has helped manage the flow of traffic and helped speed up clearances of roadway crashes.

NMDOT launches inaugural name a snowplow contest

NMDOT will select the most creative and inspiring names, and then invite the public to vote on their favorites starting December 29, 2023.

Once voting is wrapped up, the top six names with the most votes will be announced, assigned to a snowplow and winners will receive bragging rights for a lifetime. We depend on our fleet to serve our communities and make the roads safe for travelers, so let's "Name A NMDOT Snowplow!"

Welcome District One Transportation Commissioner Chandelle Sisneros

“I am honored to serve as a commissioner on the State Transportation Commission. My commitment to education and community development directly reflects my dedication to enhancing the quality of life in New Mexico. I hope to continue this commitment through improved transportation infrastructure and services.” —Commissioner Sisneros

Commissioner Sisneros brings a unique perspective to the NMDOT as the newly appointed District One Commissioner. She has deep roots in the NMDOT as well as the community of Las Cruces. Her father, grandfather, and great grandfather all worked for the Department of Transportation. Early in her educational career she pursued a degree in Engineering, however later transitioned to elementary education and is now a 3rd grade elementary teacher. Commissioner Sisneros holds a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from New Mexico State University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Higher Education Administration at her alma mater.

Happy retirement, Trent Doolittle

"I hope that I simply made this agency and state a safer, better place. The NMDOT is much more than a task or a job; it is a positively life altering commitment and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you for everything. Be safe, watch each other’s back, and know that you make a difference every day." —NMDOT Deputy Secretary, Trent Doolittle

After serving this agency and the citizens and visitors of NM for 25+ years, I have decided I want to be home more to enjoy my family. It is with excitement, sadness, and a little anxiety that I am announcing my retirement effective December 29. My last day in the office will be December 22.

Although not the most recognized, I believe the most fulfilling job is that of a public servant and I was honored to have had that opportunity with NMDOT. While reflecting on my career, I have been part of and witnessed many successes by our employees but, more importantly, I remember working side by side with great people. I admire the sacrifice, dedication, professionalism, and service of each of you. Much of my career has been in management and engineers are not taught to be managers. I struggled frequently with that transition; however, the people I work with were patient, understanding, supportive and taught me more than I could every remember. I care deeply for our employees and my greatest success has been developing influential relationships and I am a better person for it. I consider most of you friends and many of you family. I do expect I will periodically run into some of you as I plan to continue working in the industry, but I will miss this place and the people.

New Raton Port of Entry receives thumbs up

This new facility has a more modern design to accentuate the natural landscape and provide a view of the scenery from the scale room and driver's area. Xeriscaping was used around the facility to blend in with the surroundings. The scales were updated from a single axle to a full scale, and an elevated walkway was added so that employees could interact with drivers and review their credentials.

The cost of the new facility was $3,987,132.42 Only state funds were utilized for this project.

District news

2023 Training for Equipment Excellence competition

The NMDOT shows off the best of best of its equipment operators at the 2023 Training for Equipment Excellence (TEE) Competition. Anise Valdez, one of the TEE coordinators explains what the TEE is and why the competition is so important to our operators. Congratulations to District Five for taking home the Championship.

2023 TEE state-wide results


  1. District Five
  2. District One
  3. District Three


  1. Joshua Archuleta, District Five
  2. Machlovio Medoza, District Five
  3. Jose Gonzales, District Two


  1. Cimarron Zamora, District Five
  2. Michael Chavez, District Three
  3. Manuel Lesperance, District Five


  1. Kenneth Trujillo, District Five
  2. Gilbert Martinez, District Five
  3. Richard Pacheco, District Four

Dump Truck

  1. Sanchez Pioche, District Five
  2. Jeremy Sullivan, District Two
  3. Nathan Vigil, District Four


  1. Gabriel Begay, District Six
  2. Leandro Varos, District Five
  3. Larry Saiz, District Four

Skid Steer

  1. Marty Skeet, District Six
  2. Dustin Hammond, District One
  3. Donavon Devou, District Two


  1. Dennis Valdez, District Five
  2. Eddie Arenibas, District One
  3. Fernando Ortega, District Four


  1. Joseph Mondragon
  2. Eddie Arenibas
  3. Dominic Pacheco


  1. Kleer Lewis, District One
Top left: part of blade competition involves knocking a tennis ball off of a traffic cone. Top middle: a basketball stand that was damaged in competition is welded back together. Top right: scores, lots and lots of scores, are tabulated. Middle left: judges watch to see how close an operator backs up his transport to a barrier. Middle right: an operator whips a transport around a tight turn. Bottom: the last day saw a group portrait being made. —Photography by Jake Schoellkopf

District Four ribbon cutting for N.M. 434

“Without these partnerships, and working together, projects like N.M. 434 could not be accomplished. The State Transportation Commission appreciates the hard work and dedication that all NMDOT employees display every day. Without your passion and dedication, the department would not be as successful in completing projects like N.M. 434.” —State Transportation Commission Chairman Walter Adams

District Four cut the ribbon for the completed N.M. 434 project near Coyote Creek State Park. The project, located in Mora County, is a stunning achievement that produced an improved roadway for travelers between Mora and Angel Fire. This project, which is the second phase of N.M. 434, improved drainage by installing gabion retaining baskets and rock lined ditches along the roadway shoulders, extended roadway shoulders to allow for larger loads to easily make turns, geo-grid base reinforcement for better subgrade and subbase performance, a new roadway asphalt surface, two new bridges, and new metal guardrail barrier.

Relief for the traveling public on N.M. 109 in Jarales is coming

District Three Project Manager NetoRey Terrazas takes us on a tour of the worksite as work continues on bridge construction over the BNSF railroad tracks. NetoRey explains how refueling trains, block N.M. 109 stranding the traveling public on either side for long periods. Completion of this project is scheduled for Fall 2024/ Winter 2025.

Lighting up D2 and D4 with holiday cheer

“It’s an Old- Fashioned Christmas.”

District Two joined in the celebration for the holidays in this year’s Roswell Electric Light Parade on December 2. Lead by District Two Engineer, Francisco Sanchez, staff handed out bags of candy and NMDOT swag. We lit up and decorated our transport to this year’s theme “It’s an Old- Fashioned Christmas.” Also included was our Little Rudolph Side by Side (SXS).

District Four staff participated in the 2023 Las Vegas Light Parade on December 2. District staff represented the NMDOT with a Rudolph Tow Truck and the NMDOT Express Locomotive.

Balloon Fiesta 2023

The NMDOT was happy to lend a safe landing spot to ExxonMobil’s Enchanted Horizons hot air balloon on the seventh morning of the 51st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Every fall Albuquerque is treated to mornings filled with colorful balloons in the sky and it’s a treat so see a landing up close.

Stuffed animal drive

“I have seen firsthand the benefit of a police officer handing a scared child a stuffed animal, I would like to be a part of putting a smile on a child’s face at the scariest of times. Together we can make change.” —Teresa Valdez of NMDOT Ports & Entry Division

The New Mexico Department of Transportation Ports of Entry Division teamed up with the New Mexico State Police and New Mexico Taxation & Revenue to collect stuffed animals to benefit the children of New Mexico. This program was started to collect bears for police departments when responding to domestic violence calls that involve children, it’s a way to comfort the child in a negative situation.

Recycling process to complete road projects

NMDOT uses recycling process to complete project more quickly, for less money and better outcome. Joseph Quintana is the Project Manager explains the process that they used on I-25 just outside of Rowe.

Keeping roads smooth and free of potholes and cracks

The Roswell Patrol is making the roads safer. Patrol Supervisor Braulio Barraza explains how, with the increased use of U.S. 380, it’s important to keep the roads smooth and free of potholes and cracks.

Drilling down on I-25 La Bajada

Photography by Jake Schoellkopf

The project is ahead of schedule and is projected to be finished in the late spring of 2024

As any commuter between Albuquerque and Santa Fe is aware, the I-25 La Bajada roadway reconstruction is still going on between mile posts 264 and 267.5. The last column of 400 total for the northbound reconstruction portion of the project was drilled recently. The columns are filled with a concrete slurry mix that, when hardened, will help to stabilize the roadway. Several layers of geo grid and base course will be laid across the columns and then a hot mix asphalt will put down and, voila, a roadway.

The last column is drilled to a depth of 19.5 feet.
If not for closed windows who knows how covered in slurry this excavator operator would be?
The excavator bucket is covered in mud after it was used to extract excess soil that was removed from the column.
An extra auger is all cleaned up after being used to drill one of the 400 columns.


Restoring Notre-Dame de Paris—3D modeling in Autodesk Revit

Editor's note: "I recently sat in on a case study about restoring Notre-Dame de Paris with help from Autodesk and 3D modeling in Revit. I hope this story grabs the interests of some of our bridge designers, tunnel designers, and civil engineers who specialize in infrastructure and are currently exploring Revit." —Matthew Hunt, Public Relations and Marketing

Four years ago, a thick cloud of smoke filled the Parisian sky. Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the world’s most iconic cathedrals and a symbol of the human spirit’s enduring quest for beauty, faith, and hope—was burning. On that night, eight centuries of French history went up in flames as Paris’s beloved cathedral was scarred by the fire. But Parisians weren’t the only ones impacted by the Notre-Dame fire: emotion spread far beyond the borders of France, with individuals and companies alike—including Autodesk—rushing in with donations to help save the landmark.

Soon after, our CEO Andrew Anagnost recognized that a cash donation was not enough, and that Autodesk needed to play an integral role in saving the historic structure. As a French native who spent six years studying less than two blocks from the cathedral, I was eager to get involved. Two weeks following the fire, I went to Paris to assess the damage and identify opportunities for Autodesk to support the reconstruction. Visiting the cathedral that day was surreal – it was shocking and emotional to see the damage so up close after I’d spent years passing by as a student.

Employee recognition

Employee and crews of the year

The NMDOT would like to congratulate Luis Ramirez as being selected District Two’s Employee of the Year. Luis is a highly motivated employee willing to do whatever is asked of him. He is presently supervising a roadway beautification project that collects up to 1000 pounds of trash a day along New Mexico’s southeastern roadways.

District Two Supervisor of The Year goes to our very own Javier “Harvey” Acosta from the Clovis Patrol! He leads by example and will never task anybody with something he won’t do himself. Congratulations Harvey!

District Two is the NMDOT’s statewide Patrol of The Year. Proud of his team, Patrol Supervisor Mark Madrid explains the importance and impact the patrol has in his community and the great State of New Mexico.

“The grinding pays off!” NMDOT congratulates Project Manager, NetoRey Terrazas as District Three Supervisor of the Year for 2022. NetoRey credits his hard work and dedication as part of the reason for his selection. He points to the N.M. 528 project in Rio Rancho that was completed as the type of work he and his crew and contractors can be proud of.

District Four congratulates Lawrence Lujan for being selected Supervisor of the Year 2022. Lawrence has been with NMDOT for over 20 years and supervises the Tucumcari Project office.

District Five Employee of The Year, Earl “Turbo” Trujillo, is the only Northern field mechanic in District Five. With his 17 years of experience in the field, he has earned the nickname “TURBO” for his quick thinking and quick turnaround time so the maintenance crews can get their rigs back on the road.

District Six 2022 Employee of The Year goes to, the rest stop assistant supervisor Anthony Waymack. He talks about the importance and pride he takes in keeping New Mexico beautiful.

District Six Crew of The Year goes to the Traffic Engineering crew. Supervisor Jayson Grover speaks highly about his crew and describes them as the backbone of the D6 Traffic Safety Department.

The NMDOT would like to congratulate Joaquin Lopez as being selected the General Office Employee of the Year. Lopez began his career with NMDOT as a mechanic and over the years has risen to Service Center Supervisor. He is known for his professionalism, customer service and open-door policy. Congratulations Lopez!

Best project

District Six 2022 “Best Project” goes to the project office for the expedient and expert experience for the rehabilitation of highway 180 after the road was washed away.

Giving back

District One food drive

The Highway Employees Association Committee (HEA) and District One employees have always generously given to support fellow employees during Thanksgiving. This year is no different, as we collected and donated 28 food baskets to our employees to help during this time of family. Employees were selected by their supervisors and received their baskets on November 16th. As an appreciation to our active members, H.E.A. also gave all members a free turkey certificate redeemable at local grocery store, Peppers Supermarket. In total, 152 turkeys were given out to assist our members.

All Employees at the San Jon & Nara Visa Port of Entry,

In the month of October at both the San Jon and Nara Visa Ports of Entry we held a Food Driver to support the local food bank in Tucumcari, NM. I am writing to express my heartfelt gratitude for each of your generous donation to our food drive. Your contribution will go a long way in helping us provide food to those in need. Thanks to your support, we were able to collect over 800 lbs. of non-perishable food items. Your donation will help us feed the people in not only our local community but the surrounding communities in Quay counter as well. The Department of Transportation is grateful for your kindness and generosity. Your donation will make a real difference in the lives of those who are struggling to put food on the table, especially with the upcoming Holidays. —Thank you again for your support and donations, Joshua Thrasher

¿Qué Pasa?

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