Public hearing set for road closure

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

A public hearing is set for April 19 at Portales City Hall to consider a request from J.D. Heiskell and Company to close off East Commercial Street to traffic.

City Manager Tom Howell said although the city is not required to have a public hearing, the hearing is for people who have questions.

“One of the city councilors had some people call him,” Howell said. “He thought it would be a good idea to make sure everybody has the opportunity to have their say.

“We can show in a one-shot deal how many cars actually use that road,” Howell said. “What I think they are going to find is that there aren’t as many cars using that road anymore.”

Heiskell wants to close off East Commercial Street from North Main Street to North Boston Avenue and put a gate at North Abilene Street before the Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative back entrance onto Abilene and Austin Street to the first alley. A gate will be installed at the cooperative maintenance building across the street from Heiskell.

“It’s the city who is calling for the public hearing, we want to notify the people of our safety concerns with the amount of traffic coming through when we’re trying to load trucks,” Plant Manager Eldon Merrick said. “It’s not a good situation because we’re right in the middle of town and we’re having to work together to run a business and maintain a safe operation.”

Merrick said if the public isn’t behind having the road closed, it might mean the feed mill will have to close.

Merrick said some business owners have had questions and once they found out details are now supporting the plan.

Some of the changes will have the feed trucks going in and out of the entrance at East Commercial and travel down to Avenue C where they will catch the light on First Street/ U.S. 70 and make the return trip by the same route.

“There is a economic issue because if J.D. Heiskell doesn’t get the road closed, then they don’t get an air permit and they will have to close down,” Howell said. “There is a safety issue because you don’t like mixing cars and trucks together. The second safety issue is the most dangerous intersection in the city in Portales when we did our traffic study was Abilene and Second Streets.”