Mayor: Stoplight may take two years

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

The intersection of Main and Second streets may not receive at stoplight until 2011, Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. has said.

Monday night at a regular session of the Portales City Council in City Hall, Roosevelt County Commissioner Bill Cathey asked the council whether it had estimates of when a stoplight would replace stop signs on the northeast-bound lanes U.S. 70 at Main Street. Cathey said he heard complaints from residents who had been forced to wait as long as 30 minutes while trying to exit parking spaces for businesses along U.S. 70, the northeast-bound lanes of which are also known as Second Street in Portales.

Ortega estimated it would be 2011 before the state Department of Transportation would install the stoplight.

“My message to the New Mexico Department of Transportation was that we needed to move quickly on the light, but the reality is that we may have to wait until planned reconstruction of (U.S.) 70 in 2011,” Ortega said. “They’re probably thinking, ‘Let’s just put (the projects) together and do it all at once.’”

Cathey wondered if the city’s police department might be able to spare an officer a couple of times a day to keep traffic moving.

“I can’t guarantee we could have someone out there for that 20 minutes in the morning or afternoon,” Portales Police Chief Jeff Gill said. “Unfortunately, some of the peak times for traffic are also the peak times for calls for our officers.

“We’ll do the best we can and help out as much as we can,” Gill added.

The regular meeting time for the Portales City Council is on Tuesday nights, but this meeting was changed so some city representatives — including Ortega — could prepare for the annual New Mexico Municipal League state conference beginning Wednesday morning.

In other business, the council approved a resolution identifying five major capital improvement goals for the city between 2011 and 2015. The needs, which the city hopes will be addressed by future capital outlay money from the state, are:

• a type 1 ambulance purchase

• wastewater facility upgrades

• street and drainage improvements

• Blackwater Well field upgrades

• replacement of water lines, valves and hydrants throughout the city.

The council also gave unanimous approval to continue an existing agreement for the Portales Bow Hunters group to use an indoor archery range at the Portales Recreation Center and for the submittal of an application to the NMDOT for funding of the Portales Area Transit program.

Dawn Kryder, coordinator of PAT, said the transit system serves a wide variety of people in Portales at rates between 50 and 75 cents a ride, and she projected a ridership of 18,165 individuals this year.

“We are seeing an incredible growth for need in our community,” Kryder said. “It’s needed by the handicapped, elderly and young children.”