By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun
The Tucumcari City Commission will hold a public hearing to discuss restoring lighting along west Route 66 to promote safety and commerce.
Route 66 from the Tucumcari Convention Center west to Interstate 40 has been without street lights for two years.
The hearing is set for 5 p.m. May 13 at City Hall.
“I have lost business over the past two years because there are no lights along Route 66,” said Kirit Bhatt, owner of Taaj Hotel and Suites.
Bhatt said it has been a cruel twist of fate, as he placed a billboard on I-40 advertising his business only to have the street go dark two weeks later.
“I used to drive down to the interstate to look at the sign and see if people were taking the exit,” Bhatt said. “I personally watched four vehicles take the off ramp, drive down the road for a little, but then turn back around.”
There are three options the city can take in restoring the lights along west Route 66, Assistant City Manager Mike Cherry said.
Cherry said the first option is to replace the high voltage wiring in all of the lights, which will cost $100,000 and $20,000 a year to operate.
He said a second option would replace the wiring with low voltage wire and lamp heads, costing $100,000 and $15,000 a year to operate.
Cherry said the third option is to replace the lamp heads and run low voltage wiring from existing transformers in the area to light a minimum of three lights per business.
“Xcel Energy has said they will cover the cost of the wiring and lamp replacement,” Cherry said. “The yearly operating cost with this option is $5,200 a year.”
Signs need to be placed along Route 66 telling travelers to continue toward the businesses, said Commissioner Robert Lumpkin.
“Any help is better than none,” Bhatt said. “The lack of business has thrown me behind on bills and my property taxes.”
Bhatt said even if there is no business, he still has to pay the bills.
“You know it almost feels like the city is trying to drive me out,” Bhatt said. “I do all I can to struggle and survive a little bit longer.”