- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Gov. Susana Martinez has signed legislation prompted by a potential catastrophe waiting to happen at a busy intersection in the southern New Mexico community of Carlsbad.

Experts have warned lawmakers that something needs to be done about the giant cavern that has formed at the edge of the city where two major transportation routes intersect. Nearby is a canal that delivers water to farmers throughout the lower Pecos Valley and a neighborhood of mobile homes.

With the legislation signed Thursday, a special authority will be created to help guide remediation and a fund established to help pay for the work.

The city of Carlsbad and other stakeholders have weighed several options, with backfilling the cavern among the most desirable and least expensive. Still, officials have said such an operation could cost close to $25 million.

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