City tackles traffic

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Objectives and goals are being established by a steering committee to resolve traffic issues in the Portales area and the public input phase should begin soon, say city officials.

“We’re in the study and analysis stage right now, said Portales City Manager Debi Lee.

Of primary concern is the downtown area. The objective is to make the downtown area more pedestrian friendly, while protecting the integrity of the business area, said Lee.

Intentions of the study, which is being funded through a $250,000 capital projects allocation from the state legislature, are to look at traffic conditions, traffic flow and where the traffic is going, said Lee.

If a project is identified, the city will likely approach the state for funding, Lee said in a previous PNT story. She said that even if existing roads are used it would be a “high-dollar” project.

“The whole focus is how to re-route traffic to the downtown area,” said Lee.

A questionnaire has been sent to local trucking companies to help determine which streets and roads they use in the area and how often, according to Lee. The questionaire data along with information gathered by Scott Verhines of GC Engineering in Albuquerque, and information from a 1994 study that was conducted, will be utilized in coming up with alternatives, she says.

“We’re utilizing this study and comparing it to traffic counts that Verhines has done,” Lee said.

A computer-based traffic model is being developed to run through six general scenarios, said Verhines. The scenarios will determine what will happen if a certain scenario is used and what the benefit might be.

According to the city’s Web site, the study anticipates the six alternatives to be bypass alternatives to the northwest and the southeast of the city with each direction presenting an option for using existing roads as well as one using new roads. The other two alternatives the study anticipates are keeping the existing route with changes such as traffic calming devices and a do nothing option.

“We’re in the process of improving a transportation system inside and outside of Portales,” Verhines said.

Another question that have been brought up is how to accommodate the needs of semi-trucks from the industrial area, according to Verhines. How the semis and other traffic move in and around U.S. 70 are important to the study, he says.

According to Lee, the committee will soon begin going to various organizations in the community to get input on the problem. This will allow the community to have a voice in the possible solutions, says Lee.
A meeting with GC Engineering and the steering committee will be held on at 4 p.m. Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Memorial Building.