Commission restricts heavy traffic on RDO

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After a three month delay, the Valencia County commissioners finally took action on an ordinance which prohibits heavy truck traffic on a portion of North Rio del Oro.

The ordinance prohibits trucks and truck trailers with a gross vehicle weight of five tons or more from using North Rio Del Oro Road, east of Manzano Expressway to Valencia High School, without a permit.

It passed on a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Ron Gentry and Lawrence Romero voting against the new ordinance.

There was little discussion of the ordinance at the Aug. 15 meeting. Commissioner Georgia Otero-Kirkham said she had gone over the ordinance "quite extensively."

"You (Chairman Donald Holliday) and I have met with the schools and I think they're okay with the times," Otero-Kirkham said. During previous discussions of the ordinance, commissioners had considered allowing heavy traffic near the high school only during certain times of the day.

Holliday said the ordinance would impose the county's own restrictions.

"The times are going to be established at a later date," Holliday said. "They need to study things and see what the best times are, when traffic is heaviest."

"Then what are we going to do?" Otero-Kirkham asked.

"We're going to pass it," Holliday replied. "(Valley Improvement Association) and legal are going to work out the rest."

County attorney Dave Pato said at the May 9 public hearing on the ordinance, the commissioners had asked that a permit process be included in the ordinance.

"As part of the permitting process, it would include a traffic study for when use of the road was appropriate for trucks," Pato said.

The ordinance prohibits vehicles over five tons, but does make exceptions for solid waste vehicles, trucks making deliveries to a local resident, emergency vehicles, school busses, government or utility vehicles, and service and transportation vehicles.

Permits for vehicles over five tons can be obtained through an application process with the county planning and zoning department. The application fee is $50 and the application includes information such as the vehicle's owners/operators, weight, materials carried, route to the site, a beginning and ending date for activity, frequency of trips and times of operation.

Those who violate the ordinance are subject to a $300 fine, 90 days in jail or both.

The proposed ordinance was tabled on a unanimous vote in May and originally scheduled to come back to the commissioners for a vote in July.

During the May 9 public hearing on the ordinance, Otero-Kirkham said she and Holliday had met with representatives from Valley Improvement Association and agreed to give the company additional time to "come up with a plan."

Otero-Kirkham said she and Holliday also met with representatives of the Los Lunas Pubic Schools, to inform them a final decision on the ordinance would be delayed until VIA presented its plan.

VIA's proposal to the county offered a schedule of use for the north part of the loop — 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday during the regular school year and in the summer; 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday during school holidays, and 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, all year round.

Those proposed times of operation were not made part of the approved ordinance.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.