Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Residents and business owners in Portales wouldn’t mind seeing a truck by-pass in Portales to help alleviate the amount of traffic going into the downtown area and reduce the wear and tear on First and Second streets.
Buzz Goodson, co-owner of Bar-G Western Wear, said he would like to see a truck by-pass in Portales. Goodson and his wife, Fern, own Bar-G Western Wear which is located in the downtown plaza.
“Our roads are beat up in the downtown area,” Buzz Goodson said. “Some of the vehicles go 45 mph (down Second Street). I think a truck by-pass would benefit businesses and truck drivers. Truck drivers are on a schedule and they don’t want to wait for stop lights.”
Lori Bollema, owner of The Bread Basket, said she would like to see a truck by-pass in Portales, also. Bollema said what bothers her the most about the traffic is the rate of speed people are traveling down Second Street.
“It wouldn’t be so bad if it was patrolled better,” Bollema said. “It’s not just the semi-trucks, other cars don’t slow down through here.”
The posted speed limit is 25 mph in the downtown area on First and Second Streets. The traffic is a mix of local people, shoppers and those traveling through Portales. Travelers and truck drivers driving on Highway 70 go through the downtown area.
City councilors during a city meeting gave Portales City Manager Debi Lee direction to begin looking into alternatives to reduce the amount of wear and tear on First and Second streets.
Lee said in October the city will advertise for an engineering firm to analyze the problem. Requirements of the engineering firm will be to conduct traffic counts, surveys and public meetings.
Portales City Councilors received $250,000 through 2005 capital outlay funds from state money through 2005 capital outlay funds for a solution. One of the solutions which will be considered is a truck by-pass.
Ortega, during a city meeting, said the $250,000 will only be enough to do surveys and hire an engineering firm to conduct feasibility studies.
Kim Huffman, Community Development director, and Lee said they have both heard arguments for and against a truck by-pass. Huffman said if city officials decide to build one, it could be an economic development benefit to the city. City representatives could allow for development along the truck by-pass helping to bring in new businesses.
Bob Kurtz, District 2 Engineering Support manager for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said there are currently three relief routes (truck by-passes) in southeastern New Mexico: Roswell, Carlsbad and Alamogordo.
Kurtz said construction on the relief route in Alamogordo was completed three years ago. Kurtz said City of Alamogordo officials decided to make it an access-controlled relief route. He said private and commercial development was not allowed on the relief routes to keep from taking away customers from the Alamogordo businesses.
Carlos Palomino, an Eastern New Mexico University student, said he would like to see a truck by-pass. Palomino said downtown streets are much better in Raton, where he is originally from, after street renovations were completed seven years ago. Palomino said travelers use Interstate 25 instead of city streets.
San Skinner, owner of Skinner’s Western Wear in the downtown plaza, said he doesn’t have a problem with the construction of a truck by-pass. Neither Skinner, Goodson nor Bollema believe it would affect the number of customers they receive. All said most of their customers live in eastern New Mexico.
Business owners said they don’t have anything against the semi-truck drivers, they understand the truck drivers have a job to do. They believe the engineering firm chosen by the City of Portales needs to have input from Abengoa Corp., Garvey Processing Inc., Dairy Concepts, Southwest Canners and Milk Transport Services representatives.