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Crossing Country Club controversy

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At the intersection of North Main Street and Country Club Road, pedestrian buttons are present without any countdown signals. This traffic signal is closest to Allsup’s Convenience Store. According to City Engineer Louis Najar, pedestrians are allotted enough time to cross, however, pedestrians can be unaware of where the signal is in the countdown. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

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At the intersection of North Main and Country Club Road, a crosswalk is without proper signage and pedestrian buttons at the present moment. City Engineer Louis Najar said the city is aware but is facing right-of-way issues with Valley Bank of Commerce, who wants to sell the right-of-way.

Concerned citizen

Denise Toby crosses North Main over the median to make an appointment at Eastern New Mexico Medical Center at the intersection of North Main Street and Country Club Road on Feb. 5. Toby spoke with the Daily Record after her appointment while waiting at the southbound bus stop near Valley Bank. An Allsup’s Convenience Store employee said she had seen jaywalking all the way to Target near Wilshire Boulevard. (Trevier Gonzalez Photo)

Pam Davis, a concerned citizen who lives on Country Club, said she noticed the missing countdown light while walking her dogs after the sidewalks had been fixed to comply with the American Disabilities Act.

Davis said she had called the city and asked why there was no signage and why nothing had been done. Davis said the city told her it was on the list of projects and a $600,000 plan would create a new crosswalk with proper signals.

Davis said her reasoning for reporting this issue to the Daily Record was after seeing a gentleman in a wheelchair trying to get across the street without enough time and New Mexico Military Institute students bogged down with Target bags waiting for the signals.

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“I know it is expensive — but it is not worth someone’s life,” Davis said. “I think the city could get sued if someone gets hurt.”

Upon hearing about the city’s plan, Davis said she asked the city why the old ones could be displayed because this is a major safety issue that needs resolution.

An Allsup’s employee said she noticed jaywalking all the time all the way up to Target. Stripes Convenience Store employees said they were unaware of any problems with the crosswalk.

City and bank

Najar said the city is aware of what he calls the Country Club Project, which was halfway designed with a budget of $650,000 granted by the City Council in 2016. Najar said he and his team hope to have the project completed within the year.

Najar said the other businesses, Stripes Convenience Store, Allsup’s Convenience Store and Domino’s Pizza will donate the right-of-way, but Valley Bank was not willing to give an easement.

Cody Burson, president of Valley Bank, said the city’s proposal was to put a stop light in and change it from the current location to a new location. The city had provided scans and drawings of a plan. Burson also said this was the first time he had heard about issues with the crosswalk.

“There was no confrontation, no denials,” Burson said. “We want to work with the city.”

Burson said the last communication with the city was six to eight months ago and the bank was waiting on an appraisal on the corner for the new light from the city. Burson spoke with the Daily Record on Thursday.

Najar said pedestrian countdown signals are not present and an entire rebuild is necessary due to the signal being full of old conduit. Najar estimates the signals were built in the ‘70s. Najar confirmed the city worked on the ramps a couple of years ago to get them to code.

For the timing of the lights, Najar said there is enough time for pedestrians to cross, but there is no countdown sign that shows the pedestrian how much time they have in the cycle.

Jaywalking 

Denise Toby, a citizen, jaywalked to an appointment at Eastern and had another appointment to see a specialist at Lovelace Regional Hospital the same afternoon on Feb. 5. While speaking to the Daily Record, Toby sat at the southbound bus stop of Valley Bank wrapping her right hand in gauze and saying she experienced pain.

“I normally have my child with me,” Toby said. “I have a 7-year-old. I would have walked to there, had to wait, and basically jaywalk with him because there is no sign that says it’s OK. I have taught him to push the button, so he would not want to go until he saw it, which is a good thing. Then he can read and see — if it would not have changed, he would have said, ‘We can’t go, Mommy,’ and then I would be there arguing with a 7-year-old.”

Toby said she knew jaywalking over the median with an injury was dangerous but she had to get to her appointment. She said she relies on the Pecos Trail Transit for all of her transportation, which she said despite having to guess, the schedule is “not that bad.” Toby said the updates on Main Street was encouraging and hopes to see the city fix the crosswalk soon.

“It’s dangerous as hell,” Toby said. “Nobody slows down. They don’t even see you — because they figure you are supposed to use the crosswalk. “It wouldn’t hurt for them to fix it — instead of handing out tickets.”

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.