By Tony Parra
Portales police department officers have been using a bulletin board indicating traffic accidents to target what areas officers need to keep a watchful eye on.
Portales Capt. Lonnie Berry said drivers should beware of certain areas such as Chicago Ave. and Elb or First St. in the vicinity of the Wagon Wheel and McDonald’s restaurants.
Berry said officers use pins around the Portales area to designate the accidents, with different colors denoting day shifts from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., swing shifts from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and graveyard shifts from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Berry said there were three accidents during the day and two in the evening on First St. in the vicinity of McDonald’s and Wagon Wheel during the month of September.
“Speed was not a factor,” Berry said. “They have not had as much room to maneuver. The citations have been because of failure to yield.”
Berry said a way to remedy the high traffic during lunch time was done by John Snowberger, McDonald’s owner, when he created a second menu board so the drive-thru traffic would not extend into First St.
The problem has been drivers not yielding and it has let to the highest rate of traffic accidents during the day. The highest rate of traffic accidents in the evening has been in the N. Chicago Ave. and Elb St.
Berry said most of the accidents in the Chicago Ave. vicinity were due to the weather.
Berry said a remedy for the problem is for the Portales Police Department to increase the number of cars on patrol in the trouble areas.
“It’s been a really good tool for us,” Berry said. “We make a lot of use out of it and it opens our eyes to the areas.”
Berry said after police officers saw a few traffic accidents around the high school in the month of August, they notified Portales High School officials to relay a message to the students to drive more carefully. He said the two entities work together to solve the problem and there were no traffic accidents in September.
Portales resident Antonio Ortiz said one of the areas he has trouble with is heading north on Abilene St. when drivers are trying to cross First St.
“It’s tough to see the traffic coming from the Clovis direction,” Ortiz said. “You can’t see the traffic coming around the curve.”
Joe Batista, Portales resident, said another problem area is when drivers are traveling on Avenues E, F and G.
“There are some trees blocking the stop signs,” Batista said. “It’s not just those streets. There are other areas in town. You can’t see the stop sign till the last moment.”
Gary Williamson of Portales expressed his concern over the crossing between University Dr. and Highway 70 during a city meeting in mid-August. He said he would be making a right turn from the right lane and other drivers would pull up on the shoulder and make a right turn, keeping him from making a turn.
Williamson said it was a problem because there was no designation whether it was a parking spot or a turning lane. Since then the area has been designated as a turning lane to avoid traffic accidents.