First days have few snags

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

While there’s no doubt traffic will be slowed at key points across Tucumcari, the first two days of the First Street Project’s return to the city have come and gone without any major snags.

“We all worked on it together and planned for it, so everything’s on plan and on schedule,” said Sayeed Afsar, the manager of the First Street Project. “We have the traffic plan in place, the detours in place.”

The two most noticeable areas of construction work so far on First Street are the segment between Hines Avenue and Tucumcari Boulevard and the intersection of Main Street and First Street. Both of those areas are blocked off.

On Main Street, business owners surveyed had different opinions on how much impact the construction would have on business.

Hope Ortiz was in her 10:30 a.m. routine of preparing dough for tortillas for Tuesday’s lunch crowd at Lena’s Home Cooking. Ortiz, who owns the restaurant first opened by her mother Lena, said she didn’t expect the lunch crowd to be any smaller during the two months of construction along Main Street.

“I don’t feel like it will hurt us,” Ortiz said, “because our customers will just use our back parking.”

Across the street, Apollo Gym owner Mary Jimenez was a little less optimistic.

“It’s going to hurt (business) some because people just don’t want to park in the back and walk,” said Jimenez, who added that she hopes customers won’t take the construction as an excuse to stop working out.

Jimenez said she has contemplated creating an entrance through the back of the gym, but said it wouldn’t be polite of her to expect customers to walk through what is now a storage room to work out.

“Maybe that might be a good reason to clean it,” Jimenez said with a laugh, “if I could get my sons to help me.”

A.S. Horner Inc., the construction company managing the project, is responsible for providing adequate access to businesses in areas affected by construction.

“Instead of paving, there may be some dirt surface. We try to minimize the inconvenience as much as possible,” Afsar said. “That’s part of the reason we want to expedite the work in front of the businesses.”

The weather has certainly cooperated, with temperatures in the mid-70s and no precipitation.

“This is perfect weather for construction,” Afsar said. “Last year, around July and August, it rained quite a bit and slowed down the project quite a bit. We’re hoping for good weather (to continue).”

Afsar said with good weather there is every expectation of being finished with the work before the planned end date of Oct. 15.

Throughout the process, Afsar said there will be weekly meetings at the Tucumcari Police Department (9 a.m. Wednesdays) and monthly appearances on radio stations to talk with citizens about concerns.

Residents can come to the meetings to discuss problems, or call either Johnny Macias (461-3354) or Tommy Garcia (461-4619) for more immediate information.

“With a major project like this,” Afsar said, “there’s no question there has to be an understanding and cooperation from everybody.”