Committee will look at six traffic alternative options

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Members of a steering committee charged with studying the future of Portales transportation agreed on researching six alternatives to decide if a bypass would be a viable option without losing revenue to Portales businesses.

Scott Verhines, engineer with GC Engineering Inc. of Albuquerque, presented the six alternatives Friday afternoon during a steering committee meeting. Verhines said a high volume of commercial traffic in the downtown area has caused city officials to look at the future of Portales transportation.

Debi Lee, city manager, said a growth traffic projection has to be taken into account also for the engineering study. Estimates are needed on how much additional truck traffic will come to Portales because of the expansion of Abengoa, DairiConcepts, area dairies, Sunland Inc., Hampton Farms and other industries.

Tim Wilson, Abengoa Bioenergy plant manager, said the plant receives an average of 35 semi-trucks while shipping out 30 semi-trucks of livestock feed each day.

“I think it (bypass) would help the city,” Wilson said. “My initial thoughts would be that a northwest route would be the most convenient to our truck drivers.”

Portales industry, business owners, Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, Eastern New Mexico University, county and city government officials met with engineers to discuss their responsibilities in the project and give input.

Randy McCasland, vice president of Garvey Processing Inc., said they receive an average of 80 semi-trucks a day. In the case of Garvey Processing Inc. though, the truck drivers would still have to drive into the center of Portales.

“I think it’s (bypass) a good idea, but they also have to think about how it will affect businesses,” McCasland said.

Steering committee members were able to review research from the Center for Transportation Research of the University of Texas which showed a loss of per capita sales for retail and gasoline to Texas cities with a population of 13,000 after a bypass was added to their communities.

It showed a 10 percent decrease to retail and 32 percent decrease to gasoline sales. However, the report also showed a 24 percent increase to the eat and drinking establishments and a 17 percent increase to the service industry after adding a bypass.

The next meeting for the steering committee will be at 4 p.m. Aug. 15. GC Engineering staff will discuss traffic counts and statistics with members at that meeting.