Portales set to explore bypass

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales residents deal with potholes, bumps, uneven streets, high and heavy traffic so for the next year residents and city officials will be looking for answers.

Engineers, hired by the city, will research whether having an alternative route will help First and Second street conditions and whether it would hurt Portales business owners.

The first step is Friday when city administrators and steering committee individuals will discuss these issues with engineers from GC Engineering, Inc. of Albuquerque during the “Kickoff Portales Transportation Study Meeting” from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Memorial Building. It is open to the public.

Clay Koontz, project engineer with GC Engineering, said they have received traffic counts and accident rates from the Portales Police Department. Koontz said they are currently using traffic-counting devices placed on the streets and the engineers are doing physical traffic counts. According to Koontz, during the transportation study engineers will do a conditions assessment on the streets.

“A goal of the meeting is to establish good meeting times and dates for public forums,” Koontz said. “We want to have good public turnouts for the follow-up public forums.”

Lee said there will be six alternatives evaluated as part of the transportation study, including a northwest alternative route using county roads, southeast alternative route using county roads and a “no action” alternative.

City officials invited representatives from DairiConcepts, Abengoa, Eastern New Mexico University, dairies, Portales schools, Southwest Canners, downtown business owners and other community members to be a part of the steering committee. Lee said an option is to form two or three subcommittees from the steering committee to evaluate the information and make contacts.

New Mexico Department of Transportation officials will also be involved in the decision-making.

“We are going to need their (DOT officials) involvement, because if we do decide on an alternative route we’re going to need to get money from them,” Lee said. “Even if we use existing county roads, it will still be a high-dollar project.”

City councilors approved a contract during the May 16 city meeting for $162,500 to GC Engineering for the costs of researching, planning and designing.

The money will come out of the $250,000 capital outlay money set aside by Gov. Bill Richardson and Rep. Joe Campos, D-Santa Rosa through the 2005 legislative session.

Lee said the remainder of the money, almost $90,000, can be used for acquiring land or construction.