Transportation Steering Committee names relief route

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

Representatives from the Transportation Steering Committee have selected a northwest relief route along an all new alignment as their preferred alternative if a relief route is pursued.

Representatives of the group met Tuesday in a work session with Portales City Councilors to present their initial evaluation of alternatives. For the last year, the group of Portales residents and business representatives has been doing an in-depth study of traffic options in the city called the Portales Transportation Plan. They’ve been led in that study by a team from GC Engineering.

“We really feel like we put a lot of time into this, and we certainly hope you won’t put this plan on a shelf like the last plan that was made 15 or 20 years ago,” said Kathy Good, a member of the committee who helped present the report during the work session.

Portales City Manager Debi Lee told the group she felt it was important to set goals using the plan so that various parts of it can be accomplished sooner than a possible relief route.

“Keeping the plan moving is the secret,” Lee said.

Good said approximately $150,000 would be leftover from the legislative allocation for the study. She urged the council to use that to adopt a few of the traffic calming measures.

John Pugh, a Portales business owner and steering committee member who helped present the report, said he originally hadn’t favored a new alignment for a relief route. But after learning how much better access and intersections can be controlled as well as business frontage control, he said he changed his mind.

Pugh said that Alamogordo officials were worried how their relief route would affect business, but after it opened they learned business increased. He said business location was controlled on the route and traffic got better in town leading to a better business climate.

“I think that’s important that you know that so when that comment comes up you’ll understand why,” Pugh said.

District II Engineer Gary Shubert with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, who was in attendance, said NMDOT doesn’t want to tell Portales what it’s going to look like. At the same time he noted the planning was timely.

“You’re looking at 30,000 vehicles per day east of Portales (in 20 years),” Shubert said. “That’s a lot of traffic.”

The final version of the plan will go before city council later this month for consideration.