The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Speed limits near hospital to remain unchanged


January 26, 2020

CLOVIS — Plains Regional Medical Center officials prefer a 25 mph speed limit — not the posted 45 mph — around its facilities on 21st Street.

Public Works Committee members on Wednesday agreed in principle, but didn’t see a reality where motorists would abide by a lower speed limit. That’s why, after a brief discussion, the committee decided to keep speed limits unchanged.

But public works did request the Clovis Police Department step up patrols in the area.

Ken De Los Santos of PRMC said the stretch of 21st Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Wheaton Street sometimes felt like a race track, especially with drivers angling for position when the road drops into two lanes.

“We have additional surgeons, providers,” De Los Santos said of recent additions along the stretch of 21st Street. “We have a retail pharmacy.”

De Los Santos said having a 25 mph speed limit by the hospital facilities was the desired goal, but moving to 35 mph would also be beneficial. He noted hospital speed zones were frequently used in other cities, specifically noting Las Cruces.

Committee members supported PRMC’s intentions, but didn’t believe a new speed limit sign would help achieve them.

City Traffic Superintendent Kevin Musick said a September study of the road showed about 2,500 cars in the morning and the evening, which he attributed to employment at Cannon Air Force Base. He also noted traffic will inevitably increase there with work on the horizon for Seventh and Grand streets.

According to the study, Musick said, the 85th percentile of drivers went between 41 and 43 mph on the inside lane and between 47 and 51 mph on the outside lane of the road.

Committee member George Jones said based on that data, he felt a change in the posted speed limit wouldn’t accomplish much.

“People are going to travel what they think they can travel safely,” Jones said, “and the 85th percentile has told us ... 45 mph is what they’re willing to travel. If we change it to 25, I don’t think we’d see a lot of people travel that.”

Commission Chair Chris Bryant said he unfortunately was inclined to agree with Jones, noting that he recently traveled that road at 45 mph, “and cars were coming right up behind me and going around me.”

People at the meeting only recalled one accident on that road, but said factors pointed to driver inattention and not speed as the accident’s root cause.

De Los Santos, seeing the momentum against a change, said the hospital would respect any decision the committee made but was concerned about laws based on what people wanted to do instead of what they should do.

City Manager Justin Howalt suggested stepping up police presence in the area to see what impact that would have, and the committee made a motion to that effect.

In other business at the meeting:

• Members prioritized projects for Local Government Road Fund requests, and agreed with a ranking by Public Works Director Clint Bunch.

The first priority is Thornton Street from Grand to Seventh, with repaving and signal upgrades at the Seventh-Thornton intersection. The work would be about $425,000, with about two-thirds dedicated to the repaving and the rest to the signal upgrades. Bunch noted the city has unsuccessfully applied for state funds four times, and may have to eventually find a way to fund it with city money.

The second priority is 14th Street from Sycamore to Prince for $520,000. Bunch said the work is overdue, and a patch put in after effluent pipeline installation is actually better than the rest of the road.

The third priority is Manana Boulevard from Prince to Main for $650,000. Bunch said the road was chip-sealed last year, but that was just buying a few extra years.

• Bunch asked members to arrive to the next meeting with suggestions on where to move recycling bins recently removed from land near the 21st Street Post Office.

Bunch said the bins had been there 12 years. They were first placed there when Mayor David Lansford owned the land and had no issue locating the bins there. Unbeknownst to the city, Lansford sold that land four years ago. The new owner just realized the bins were on his land and asked for either their removal or a rent payment. Bunch went with the former, since the recycling program is a financial loss the city primarily started to save room at the landfill.

Bunch said the bins were the third-most used behind the ones at the Walmart and Albertsons parking lots, but were still popular and typically emptied twice a week.

• Bunch updated members on the city’s work with Roadbotics, and said about 8 of 250 miles of city streets have been catalogued.

The Roadbotics service involves a person driving around a city with a mounted cell-phone photographing small stretches of road. When all photographs are compiled and analyzed by Roadbotics software, a city has a data set that shows which roads should be prioritized for repairs.

Bunch hoped to have actionable data in the next few months.

• John King, deputy director of operations for Clovis Municipal Schools, went through a list of upcoming school projects.

Summer projects included roofing work for Clovis High’s G Building, floor improvements for Cameo and Mesa elementaries and work at Barry Elementary to include roofing and HVAC upgrades along with a classroom addition. He also noted the district was looking to make improvements at its ag farm at 21st and Wheaton, and that Superintendent Renee Russ was talking with state legislators about the facility’s needs.

• The next meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Feb. 26.


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