Richardson plans Hull Street funding

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo During his visit to Clovis Tuesday, Gov. Bill Richardson said he intends to secure $5 million in funding needed to repair the Hull Street overpass.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday stopped short of promising, but said he intends to secure $5 million needed to repair the Hull Street Overpass.

“I believe,” Richardson said, “the governor, me, that it looks very good, but it’s not yet done, that I’ll get you the 5 million.”

The governor was in Clovis as part of a statewide listening tour.

Richardson said the bridge funding would not come through federal stimulus funding, but from Surface Transportation Program funds. He said he doubted Clovis residents would care what dollars replaced the overpass, which has been closed since last summer.

The absence of the overpass has led to slowed traffic to businesses south of the overpass, longer routes for work and school trips and increased response times from emergency responders.

Surface Transportation Program funds may be applied toward many types of projects, including road and bridge reconstruction. Richardson said freeing up the $5 million would be a change of priorities with the money potentially available in June.

Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said the project could go out to bid within two weeks of available funding.

“We couldn’t be happier with what Gov. Richardson told us about the Hull Street Bridge,” Clovis Mayor Gayla Brumfield said. “He told us that he would help, and he’s stepped up.”

Regarding stimulus funds, Richardson said he wanted to make sure the state got as much of a share as possible, but it wasn’t a simple prospect.

“It’s not as if the federal government is giving $1.8 billion and I’m writing checks,” Richardson said. “There are grants, there are forms, there are all kinds of, I’ll call them hoops, you have to go through to get these funds.”

Areas where the state doesn’t have many projects, Richardson said, are with broadband communication, health information technology and renewable energy.

Thomas said Clovis’ other funding requests include $6 million for upgrades to its wastewater treatment facility, and work was needed on Norris Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Both are arterial roads, Thomas said, and Plains Regional Medical Center is located on MLK Boulevard.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said the county’s top priority, with the upcoming expansion of Cannon Air Force Base, is $2 million for upgrades to county roads.

Richardson also heard requests regarding summer youth programs, Internet safety education, funds for additional law enforcement officers and $500,000 for a wastewater treatment lagoon in Melrose.

In a matter not involving stimulus funds, Jessica Baker of Clovis asked the governor for help on adding stop signs back to the intersection of Plains and Main.

When a four-way stop was added to Plains and Manana Boulevard, Plains and Main became a two-way stop. That is a danger to children at Highland Elementary School, located at the intersection, she said.

City officials said the change was made in November on a 90-day trial period, has been approved by both the Traffic Safety Committee and the City Commission, and is recommended by national traffic standards for efficient city traffic flow.

Baker contends driver inconvenience is worth the safety of children, and she’s been ignored when she’s made the point at every level of government.

Richardson heard Baker say she had a petition with 140 resident signatures, and after noting it wasn’t his jurisdiction, asked Brumfield, “Would you help the lady, for crissakes?”

Fast facts

Stimulus projects Gov. Bill Richardson said he has recently approved:

• $383,000 for two public transit vans, landscaping at the Clovis Area Transit System facility, a bus shed and storage units

• $830,000 for Hull Street Overpass construction. Richardson said he would try to acquire an additional $5 million through Surface Transportation Program funds

• $3.7 million to Clovis Municipal Schools — $1.4 million in Title I funds and $2.3 million in special education funds

• $336,000 for community services block grants to Eastern Plains Community Action

• $154,000 to Clovis and Curry County for Justice Assistance Grant funding