Business owners voice concerns over road construction

With weather and other factors putting the year-long U.S. 70 construction project behind, local business owners asked project officials Thursday how the delays would affect the schedule and their businesses.

Christina Calloway: Portales News-Tribune

Representatives from local restaurants, companies and Eastern New Mexico University attended an open meeting held in Portales' Memorial Building to voice their concerns about the $8.3 million project to construction and city officials.

John Franklin of Constructors Inc. attempted to assuage the concerns coming from the public about delays. So far, construction is 10 days behind and taking place on First and Second streets between University Place and Avenue G.

"I apologize for some of the mishaps," Franklin told business owners. "We should go a lot faster in the next couple of months if weather doesn't put us back."

Business owners asked about the foundation of the road, wondering if the road improvements will last considering the truck traffic and the weight that travels on U.S. 70.

Franklin said the concrete they are laying down on the roads is about 8 inches thick, not including the base.

Franklin added that he's notified the utility companies and the city about where the digging for the construction will take place to make sure they don't strike pipes or lines.

Businesses along Second Street also asked about a water leak on Second Street and Avenue I caused by a busted water valve.

"We're going to work on the leak as soon as we get the right parts in," Public Works Director John DeSha said.

Representatives from the New Mexico Department of Transportation have also been working with Constructors Inc. on the project.

NMDOT's Pat Garcia said they are looking at areas of the project where they can make changes to the plan that will save money and time.

"We're taking off the surfacing (of the roads) and looking at the structural value," Garcia said.

According to Garcia, if the current base of the roads is stable and in good condition, using it will save project money and construction time.

Franklin and Constructors Inc. project manager John Guldemann promised to work with businesses on access once the roads to the main entrances of their business are closed.

Franklin cited Domino's Pizza and other local businesses as examples of businesses they have provided additional entrances to.

In order to keep the local public abreast of any construction issues and progress, Guldemann told business owners that they will hold a public meeting every second Tuesday of the month.

John Pugh, manager of Something Different Grill, said he felt Franklin and Guldemann explained their plans clearly and said the outcome of the project looks positive.

"People are glad to see progress," Pugh said. "In the long run, the construction will certainly be worth it."

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