Portales weighing bypass

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

Members of a steering committee charged with studying the future of Portales transportation agreed to research six alternatives to decide if a bypass would be viable without losing revenue to Portales businesses.

Scott Verhines, engineer with GC Engineering of Albuquerque, presented the six alternatives Friday afternoon during a steering committee meeting. Verhines said a high volume of commercial traffic in the downtown area has caused city officials to look at the future of Portales transportation.

Debi Lee, city manager, said a growth traffic projection has to be taken into account also for the engineering study. Estimates are needed on the amount of additional truck traffic for Portales because of the expansion of Abengoa, DairiConcepts, Sunland, Hampton Farms, area dairies and other industries.

Tim Wilson, Abengoa Bioenergy plant manager, said the plant receives an average of 35 tractor-trailers while shipping out 30 tractor-trailers of livestock feed each day.
“I think it (bypass) would help the city,” Wilson said. “My initial thoughts would be that a northwest route would be the most convenient to our truck drivers.”

Portales industry, business owners, Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, Eastern New Mexico University, county and city government officials met with engineers to discuss their responsibilities in the project and give input.

Randy McCasland, vice president of Garvey Processing, said the firm receives an average of 80 tractor-trailers a day. For Garvey, though, the truck drivers would still have to drive into the center of Portales.

“I think it’s (bypass) a good idea, but they also have to think about how it will affect businesses,” McCasland said.

Steering committee members were able to review research from the Center for Transportation Research of the University of Texas that showed a loss of per-capita sales for retail and gasoline to Texas cities with a population of 13,000 after a bypass was added to their communities. It showed sales decreases of 10 percent for retail and 32 percent for gasoline. However, the report also showed a 24 percent increase for eating and drinking establishments and a 17 percent increase to the service industry after adding a bypass.

The next meeting for the steering committee will be 4 p.m. Aug. 15. GC Engineering staff will discuss traffic counts and statistics.