Possible bypass prompts questions

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

The first large-scale public vetting of the ongoing work on the Portales Transportation Plan drew lots of people Tuesday — most of whom seemed concerned about where a bypass might be located.

Scott Verhines and Clay Koontz of G.C. Engineering, the contract engineers for the study, explained the process the city of Portales is going through and the various alternatives being considered for relieving traffic congestion downtown. It is also hoped options would address safety as well as wear and tear on streets in Portales.

Verhines told the audience based on a computer model a relief route (truck bypass) is a good long-term option.

“We want to really have you understand where we are in this process,” Verhines said. “Do we believe a truck route is needed? Based on the group’s consensus the answer is yes. The analysis says a northwest route would be best.”

He cautioned the alignments shown on the maps displayed for the public weren’t set in concrete. He said some of the lines were strictly arbitrary until further study.

Maps showed a possible existing route might be Roosevelt Road 3 to the north and Roosevelt Road 6 to the south. The lines, which Verhines called arbitrary, were drawn outside those routes.

County resident Scotty Savage said she had concerns about maintaining the rural nature of her property.

“I bought out there and spent a lot of money on my home because I didn’t want a lot of traffic,” Savage said.

Kenny Combs, who also lives north of Portales, echoed Savage’s comments and urged planners to look as far north as possible for the alignment. He said that would encompass grassland and sandhills and have less impact on residents.

Short-term solutions outlined included things such as rumble strips, traffic lights and pedestrian safety enhancements. Mid-term solutions included looking at moving truck traffic through town on other existing routes, according to Verhines and Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr.

County resident Steve Blakely questioned the wisdom of rerouting trucks in the mid-term on other streets.

“Will we get more money to maintain those routes,” Blakely asked? “You’re not even filling the potholes now.”

Other issues discussed were:

• Feasibility of in-close relief alignments, which the engineers said weren’t feasible mostly for financial reasons.

• Railroad crossing issues, both as associated with a bypass and just in general for moving traffic.

• High accident areas were discussed.

• Using roundabouts to address problems associated with odd angles in the city.

• Possible phasing of a bypass construction.