Residents adjusting to traffic changes

By Eric Butler: FNM correspondent

Lori Bollema knows some Portales residents have struggled to adjust to a new stop sign that has halted northeast-bound traffic on 2nd Street at Main.

From her vantage point at the Bread Basket, she still sees motorists drive straight through the stop sign.

And it’s been more than two months since the sign was erected.

“It’s slowed traffic down and that’s wonderful,” Bollema said during a telephone interview Thursday, “but I do see a lot of people still running it. As I’m talking to you right now, a pickup’s running through it.”

Most are getting used to the stop sign, however, and that’s good. For one thing, it may lessen the potential for a traffic accident that could originate from just a block away.

That’s because there is only one sign indicating it is a one-way street, and that sign is faded and difficult to see.

Something else that Bollema said she sees “every day” is a car driving the wrong way on one-way Main Street.

Without a sign, wrong-way travelers who make it unimpeded down the whole block conceivably would run directly in the path of 2nd Street traffic going at full-speed.

“Most of them coming down the wrong way, I assume, are from out of town,” Bollema said. “It’s not a two-way yet on Main, so when they’re coming down they don’t have a stop sign. I guess they figure they have the right to just plow through.”

Main Street is destined to become a two-way street eventually. The City of Portales, as part of the parking lot reconstruction surrounding the Roosevelt County courthouse, has already carved out areas for parking on Main Street angled for vehicles heading southeast.

The stop sign is also due to be replaced by a traffic light.

“Right now, we’re trying to get a light at 2nd and Main, but we don’t have the numbers to justify that,” said Nicole Wilkening, manager of the Portales Main Street Program. “Their idea was to open it (Main) up to two-way in order to get the numbers.”

That’s for the future.

Right now, driving in southeast on Main Street is prohibited.

But for 1st Street drivers approaching Main, particularly those unfamiliar with the city, discerning that Main Street is actually a one-way avenue might be extremely difficult.

No one-way street sign is posted at the intersection itself. The only sign that might indicate anything at all is one with a symbolic left-hand turn — a sign that apparently used to have a diagonal line across the symbol alerting drivers that such a turn is prohibited.

However, the diagonal line on that lone sign has been weathered away and all that remains is something that might appear to allow left hand turns.

“On an average day, somebody’s always going down it the wrong way,” said Bollema, owner of the Bread Basket for the past five years.

“It’s always been a two-way (street) as long as I’ve been in here,” she joked.

Opinions of others in business on Main Street are varied.

Edwina Lucero, credit manager at Valley Furniture, said he hasn’t noticed a problem lately.

“Not that I’ve seen,” said Lucero, who works at the store located at the corner of Main and 1st streets. “There was some (wrong turns) when the construction was going on, but I haven’t really seen much since.”