Businesses feel pinch after loss of overpass

CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson Tommy Gonzales, a shop technician with Tijerina Trucking in Clovis, does some work on a semi Wednesday afternoon. Gonzales said it’s been a struggle getting to work and getting auto parts for the job since the Hull Street overpass was closed last year.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

With a half-empty box of Crayola crayons on one desk, and a cot next to another, it’s obvious that Jimenez Trucking on Brady Street is a place where kids are going to spend some time.

The parents who work there, or the extended family of Tijerina Trucking a little further west on Brady Street, can’t wait for the day a new Hull Street Overpass comes and it’s a little easier to move family members and merchandise.

“If they put a toll booth there,” Tommy Gonzales of Tijerina Trucking said, “I’d be happy to pay 50 cents.”

Gonzales, who has worked for the family business on the intersection of Hull and Brady streets for nearly a decade, lives on Cesar Chavez Drive. With the Hull overpass out, Gonzales on good days enters south Clovis through nearby Martin Luther King Boulevard, which does not have an overpass over the railroad tracks.

“If I catch the train,” Gonzales said, “I’ve got to go all the way around” to Prince Street.

Jackie Reynolds, a cattle broker, is a daily presence at the Clovis Livestock Auction, just a block south of the orange signs that say the overpass is closed — signs which have been up since July of last year.

Reynolds is optimistic about news that bids were advertised this month to replace the bridge. A bid is expected to be approved at the city commission’s Nov. 5 meeting, with work to begin before the end of the year and completion estimated for the second or third quarter of 2010.

For now, Reynolds comes to work from Farwell, so being without the Hull Street overpass means he simply turns left earlier. But Norris intersects the train tracks, and Prince Street was already a busy intersection before it took part of the 4,300 daily vehicles that used to use the Hull Street overpass.

It’s a small inconvenience in the morning, Reynolds says. But when he has to go to the northern area of Clovis to check out dairy cows, he’s got to take a gamble on the railroad schedule.

“I go through (the city) four or five times every day,” Reynolds said. “I’ll end up on Martin Luther King anyway (to go to dairies), but I never had to wait for the train.”

Down at Jimenez Trucking, Elizabeth Jimenez and Gloria Acuna handle calls and paperwork throughout the day at a cozy office full of softball trophies and family pictures. Getting to work and getting kids to school without the overpass is a challenge.

Acuna has children attending The Arts Academy at Bella Vista and the Clovis High Freshman Academy — both a few blocks off of Hull Street north of the tracks.

“I’ve got to go all the way around to Prince Street,” Acuna said, “because if I go to MLK, the train will be there.”

Also just off of Hull Street, businesses north of the overpass feel the pinch.

“It needs to be replaced,” said Mike Wall, a salesman with Carquest Auto Parts on Seventh Street. “It slows our delivery times down, it slows our customers down because they have to (deal with it). It also creates a lot of congestion over the Prince Street overpass.”

Wall could think of four or five businesses off the top of his head that use the auto parts store.

Count Tijerina Trucking among them. What used to be a quick drive through the Hull overpass is now a trip that requires planning, and Gonzales said the options are to make fewer trips or go with stores where they haven’t cultivated the same mix of business and friendship.

“We have orders with other stores, but we try to buy with (Carquest) as much as we can,” Gonzales said. “I’ve heard them tell us they’ve been hurt as well.”