Highway proposals presented to council

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

State highway planners revealed options for improvements to U.S. Highway Tuesday at the Portales City Council meeting.

Derek Meier of Wilson & Co. said his presentation was the next phase of the $6.75 million project.

The highway splits into a pair of two-lane, one-way streets in Portales — First and Second streets.

Meier showed three proposals to roadway reconstruction when the next phase of the project begins in 2011.

One is essentially a refurbishing of the streets using the current design.

The other two proposals include the possibility of a bike lane.

Meier told council members the bike lane plan preferred by the New Mexico Department of Transportation would have a 4-foot, 8-inch bike lane to the right of the two car lanes.

“We want to get everybody’s comment as to which alternative they prefer and get them to the public hearing when it’s scheduled,” said Meier.

Meier said the options will be posted on the DOT website as well as the Wilson & Company web page.

“We’re still doing an environmental investigation. When it gets approval from the DOT, then we can have a public hearing,” added Meier, who believed the hearing might take place anywhere from late November to early January.

Only three councilors, Ronald Jackson, Gary Watkins and Dianne Parker, were at the meeting at city hall. Another, Shawn Watson, was part of the meeting by telephone conference call to make a quorum.

The council gave approval for the fire department to apply for a pair of grants — one of $120,000 to buy a new ambulance and one for $56,000 to purchase two cardio-monitors.

Council members also heard update presentations on the YAM movie theater project as well as annual reports for Portales MainStreet and the city’s Recreation Center.

Danny Woodward, president of Portales MainStreet, pointed out the sundry projects his group had undertaken over the past year and illustrated further ones it would like to be tackled in the next fiscal year.

He also pointed out the replenishment of businesses on Main Street itself, between 1st and 2nd streets opposite the Roosevelt County Courthouse.

“As we speak now, we’ve got six new businesses and 100 percent occupancy on the square,” Woodward said. “I think that’s very, very positive.”