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Letter: If HB 223 is a detriment to tourism, it should be rejected

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The Feb. 17 article “Bill seeking funds for Highway 380 reconstruction meets opposition” (re: New Mexico House Bill 223) talks about safety issues for large trucks traveling U.S. 380 between Hondo and Carrizozo.

Concerns for the safety of the visitors to the Fort Stanton and Lincoln Historic Sites, and to the Smokey Bear museum in Capitan, are not mentioned.

It has been documented that 60,000 tourists visit Lincoln and Fort Stanton annually because of their ties to Billy the Kid. Another 20,000 come to Capitan because of Smokey Bear. If one estimates that each visitor spends $100 in Lincoln County per visit, that is a benefit of $8 million each year.

The entire town of Lincoln is effectively the Lincoln Historic Site, with buildings/museums scattered up and down the main street, which is also U.S. 380.

It’s impossible to tour all the major buildings without crossing the highway at least twice.

Crosswalks, pedestrian signs and a 30 MPH speed limit through Lincoln have been put in place to attempt to protect so many pedestrians tangling with so many motor vehicles.

Even currently, this is not always sufficient, as a recent pedestrian death tragically demonstrated. …

Clearly an increase in truck traffic would result, not only locally. Long distance truckers traveling between Roswell and Interstate 25 north currently use U.S. 70, because of the faster, better road and lack of restrictions. If U.S. 380 were sufficiently “improved,” they would likely take it, as it is the shorter route.

The co-sponsors of HB 223 should make their case as to the positive economic effects of this bill, taking the likely economic detriment to tourism (New Mexico’s number 1 industry) into account.

They should also explain how they will protect the safety of the tourists in Lincoln, Capitan and Fort Stanton against the increase in truck traffic.

If they cannot do so satisfactorily, this bill should be rejected.

Dan Jones

Ruidoso