Public meeting to explore traffic options

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Portales residents will have a chance to look over traffic options and possible relief route alternatives Tuesday at a public meeting of the Portales Transportation Plan steering committee.

According to city officials, the meeting seeks to answer the public’s questions and receive input on the various alternatives being looked into by the committee.

According to a city press release, maps, information of traffic calming measures and accident data will be on display from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. At 6 p.m. G.C. Engineering, the firm contracted to do the study, funded by the state Legislature, will make a presentation on the data collected and summarize what’s been discussed by a local steering committee made up of community leaders and representatives from various industries.

““The whole purpose of this traffic study is to look at how we can better manage the traffic in our community,” Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega Jr. said. “I really encourage city residents to get involved in this process.”

The presentation will include information on current and projected traffic volumes, accident rates and locations, downtown traffic options, relief route alternatives, traffic calming and accommodating pedestrian traffic, according to the press release.

Ortega noted that a variety of factors have worked to increase traffic pressure in the city, especially downtown.

He said the complete four-laning of U.S. 70 across the nation has led to an increase in out-of-town traffic. That coupled with an increase in industry locally have brought the problem to the forefront. Ortega cited a mixture of problems, including road conditions from increased traffic, safety of motorists and pedestrians and congestion.

Portales City Manager Debi Lee said industry leaders in the community have been helpful in the planning process.

“I think everyone knows we have a lot of truck traffic,” Lee said. “They’ve (industry) been very helpful in coming up with solutions.”

Ortega says while much has been made of the possible relief (truck bypass) routes, he sees that as a long-term solution that would be decades down the road. He says planning is important, though, and other less drastic options are coming up in the study, such as new traffic lights, signage, rumble strips to reduce speed and more localized relief routes.

“We’re definitely going to take action on some of the outcomes from the study,” Ortega said. “It’s always been my position to say, ‘Let’s find the immediate solutions on things we can do right away.’”

Lee said some money from the $250,000 study will be retained to put some of the short-term solutions in place.

At a glance

What: Portales Transportation Plan public meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday (map and data viewing starts 4 p.m.)

Where: Portales City Hall