Motorists winding their way through Portales should be driving on a new concrete highway within two weeks, according to John Guldemann, Constructors Inc. project manager for the U.S. 70 construction project.
Guldemann said within days, road crews will be completing the concrete road on West Second Street up to South Avenue C.
"We have to wait seven days for the concrete to get strong enough, then we have to go back and put a seal on it," Guldemann said. "It will take a couple days for that sealant to dry."
Jose Nunez, right, and Bernardo Medina, of Southwest Concrete of Artesia, smooth over a newly poured sidewalk on West First Street. Constructors Inc. Project Manager John Guldemann said one side of Second Street will be completed within the next two weeks and motorists should be driving on the new concrete road before Thanksgiving.
Guldemann said once the sealant has dried on the concrete side of Second Street, traffic will be moved onto the concrete and road crews will begin building the other concrete lane of the street.
"Well be taking off pretty quick," Guldemann said for the rest of phase one of the 18-month road project. "On Second Street, we'll move a little quicker, because we won't have to set up the wooden forms (slats laid for pouring the concrete) for the other side of the street, because we'll be pouring directly against the concrete road we just poured, so they aren't necessary."
Guldemann said the project is about four to six weeks behind due to rain interfering but the interruption was expected.
"We'd probably be halfway done with it on Second if it had not been for the rain days and it would be a similar story on First Street," he said. "You could have three quarters of the rain on the other side of the railroad tracks and it would still drain to our project, so that's just something you have to work around."
On the First Street side, road crews are currently digging out soft areas in the road, according to Guldemann.
He said crews will begin pouring concrete a week from Monday to form curbs on First Street up to South Avenue C.
He said the amount road crews have to cut off business access on First Street will be very limited.
"There will always be access to at least one of the driveways of each business," he said. "There may be times we have to close front accesses and people will have to take back ways, but those periods shouldn't last more than one hour. Our goal is to always make sure there's access to those businesses as much as we can."
He said the only business that may have access completely cut off for an hour on rare occasions could be a car wash on First Street.
Guldemann said with rains having lightened recently, the project is currently moving a lot faster. Winter is expected to bring new challenges.
"There will be days we'll have to wait to pour concrete," Guldemann said, adding that temperatures have to be at least 40 degrees and rising to pour concrete. "There will be periods, like cold fronts coming through, when we'll have to shut down."
Guldemann said he expects winter setbacks to be minor and the project to be completed just after the new year.
"I won't open up the next phase until this one is completely done and you won't see that until the beginning of the year," he said. "So people won't have to worry about it affecting the holiday season in the downtown area. It will escape unscathed."
- The next public meeting for Portales citizens with road construction concerns will be at 3 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Memorial Building.