Las Cruces Sun-News - By Diana Alba Soular - With the addition of $6.4 million approved by the New Mexico Legislature this year, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority now has about $14.5 million total for a paved southern road to the remote spaceport.
That is just $500,000 less than what it was before the spaceport authority dipped into the road budget because of a delayed start to operations by the spaceport's main tenant, Virgin Galactic, and the fact it doesn't have a visitors center built and running, spaceport officials said. Both are expected to be key revenue streams for the $212 million taxpayer-owned facility.
Spaceport officials said they were pleased lawmakers granted the additional funding. The roughly 24-mile road branches off from Interstate 25 north of a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint. It heads north from the Upham exit through northern Doña Ana County and crosses into Sierra County before reaching Spaceport America. The route now is a dirt road, but spaceport and county officials are proposing to pave it.
Some Doña Ana County residents have questioned why a road has not yet been built, given that the spaceport project has been underway for years. The county is the second-largest financial contributor to the project, thanks to a county-wide spaceport sales tax. The only existing paved route is through Truth or Consequences.
The southern road project is seen by many people as important for Las Cruces and Doña Ana County to benefit from the tourism and business activity tied to the spaceport. Spaceport officials have said they don't expect Virgin Galactic flights to start from the facility before August of this year. More