By Alisa Boswell
CMI staff writer
A construction project on the city’s major throughway that will run well past its projected completion date proved a major inconvenience and source of complaints for drivers and businesses alike in 2013.
Began in May 2012, the refurbishing of U.S. 70 was supposed to be a year-long project. Weather was the main culprit for the $8.3 million state project not being completed on time, according to project contractor, Constructors, Inc.
Intersections at Main Avenue and First and Second streets are still not complete after project company Constructors Inc. expressed hopes of completing the downtown area by Thanksgiving.
Early November brought an update from the road construction company saying that weather permitting, the town square would be open for traffic by Dec. 1.
“Hopefully, this is the only glitch we’ll have in the next couple of weeks and we’ll remain on schedule,” Wes Hancock, of Constructors, Inc., told city officials in early November.
Complaints from Portales drivers and business owners were heard throughout the year concerning the longevity of the project and certain uneven points in the road.
“The hardships that businesses went through are not going to warrant the new streets,” Dawg Houze bar owner Chad Heflin said back in June when addressing the issue of long-term limited access to businesses such as his own.
An especially inconvenient aspect for Portales drivers has been the bump on Second Street and Avenue E.
Constructors Inc. Project Manager John Guldemann said it’s not likely issues such as that one will be resolved because the area is complete.
“As far as any issues, the job is built. Any elevations are the preferred design by (New Mexico Department of Transportation),” he said at a September Portales City Council meeting in which City Councilor Dianne Parker expressed that citizens were complaining.
Guldemann said the bump was purposely put there to shed water across Second Street so that it doesn’t stand in that intersection.
He said it would be up to the NMDOT to decide if those areas need fixing, but he added that if the project’s area is flat, there may be nothing they can do to change that.
“It’s built per plan, per design of the NMDOT,” Guldemann said. “As far as elevation, they’re done. Unless the NMDOT wants to address something with drainage, for all intents and purposes we’re done.”
As promised, traffic is flowing but stop signs remain where there should be stop lights at the two Main Avenue intersections on First and Second streets.
But according to Hancock, the crew is not wrapped up for the winter season just yet. Following the end-of-year holidays, Constructors road crews will work up through the second week of January to ensure stoplights are in place before the company breaks for two months.
The stoplights will be the completion of phase two of the road renovation.
“The only thing left will be the third phase from Boston to Bryan and we anticipate starting it in mid-March and finishing sometime in June,” Hancock said.