First Street project to break ground

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Information: Public meeting at 8 a.m. at police station, June 1. Ground breaking at 10 a.m.

-Project expected to cost $12 million.

The studies have been conducted, the public meetings are winding down, and at 8 a.m. June 1, ground will be broken for the First Street project.

The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at the former Texaco station on South First Street, just south of Interstate 40.

Doug Powers, Tucumcari’s Community Development Director, said he supports the project, which is expected to cost at least $12 million.

“It seems that everything is shaping up and all the details are being ironed out,” Powers said. “There is going to be a degree of inconvenience to some, but once people see the improvements to First Street, I think they will be happy.”
Powers said the new surface for South First Street should hold up for at least 15 years without the need for major repairs, and more turning lanes will give drivers easier access to the community.

“Drainage will also improve,” he said. “It will get that water off the street that collects after a good rain. The street will also have improved lighting.”

Jerry Cannon, New Mexico Department of Transportation manager for the two-year long project, said residents should like the extra turning lanes.

“You’ll be able to turn onto any side street in any block of South First Street, “ Cannon said. “I try to tell everybody that First Street is going to look so much better.”

Bill Curry, owner of Sundowner Gallery on South First Street, said he’s concerned that traffic heading from I-40, north into town, will not be able to turn into his business during summer construction.

“I’m going to attend the next public meeting on Wednesday to see if that is the case,” Curry said. “If it is true then no one will be able to turn into my business. I will expect the officials to respond to my concerns.”

Phillip Romo, a civil engineer with the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said all intersections should remain open during construction.

“Northbound traffic will be able to make a left-hand turn,” Romo said. “An intersection may be shut down for one day, but that would be it.”

Curry said that, overall, project officials have responded “reasonably well” to his and other citizens’ concerns at public meetings.

The next public meeting on the First Street project will be held at 10 a.m. on Wednesday at the Tucumcari Police Department.