City gearing up for road project

Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce and New Mexico Department of Transportation officials are working to find ways to make an upcoming road project on the west side of the city less inconvenient for drivers and downtown businesses.

Alisa Boswell: Portales News-Tribune

Jamie Roberts of K Barnett and Sons slows traffic Tuesday afternoon as road crews put finishing touches on Chicago Avenue in Portales. The road work on the east end of Portales will be complete within three weeks, according to New Mexico Department of Transportation Project Manager Richard Gonzales.

The $8.4 million project includes new curbs and gutters, new traffic signals on First and Second streets and new street lighting and landscaping.

The project is scheduled to begin May 7 and is projected to last 300 work days.

"We just want to make sure drivers have a clear sign of where they're going," Chamber of Commerce Director Karl Terry said. "We're planning on doing some advertising that will promote shopping locally while the construction's going on. It's going to be a trying time and we want to make it have the least impact as possible."

New Mexico Department of Transportation Project Manager Richard Gonzales said a public meeting will be held in the next three weeks to talk to residents and business owners who have questions about the upcoming project.

"That's going to be one of the biggest concerns we're going to have is traffic control because space is limited in the downtown area," Gonzales said of the project, which will run from the west end of town to Bryan Street. "The width is going to be limited. The way the construction part of it is, it's going to be complicated to allow enough room for the work while also maintaining a good traffic flow."

Gonzales said the current $3.5 million project on the eastern side of town will be completed within three weeks

Gonzales said both projects are being funded by annual state and federal road funds.

Alisa Boswell: Portales News-Tribune

K Barnett and Sons road crews lay the final asphalt Tuesday afternoon for the road construction on Chicago Avenue . According to New Mexico Department of Transportation Project Manager Richard Gonzales, the next construction project on the west end of town will begin the first week of May and will include new traffic signals and landscaping.

Leroy Gutierrez, a construction inspector with HDR, a consulting firm with NMDOT, said the next project is going to be a much bigger challenge than the first, because it will run through downtown Portales, where roads are narrow and access to businesses is already minimal.

"In the downtown area, we are going to sometimes have to make them (drivers) take back routes and they'll have to go around the block to get there," Gutierrez said. "We're going to do everything we can to allow access to businesses at all times. The inconvenience will be when we will be working directly in front of a specific business."

Gutierrez said road workers will try to keep the walkways open for people as much as possible and will not shut any business down for a long period of time.

"We are really going to try to keep access where people can get in and out of businesses but there will be times we'll have to shut down certain areas because of the work that has to be done," Gonzales said. "The public needs to be aware that we are going to try our best to keep access to businesses but there are times that's going to be difficult. People are going to have to be patient because the project is going to take a lot of time."

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