LAS VEGAS, N.M. (KRQE) – Visitors at a popular New Mexico lake say their favorite pastime has turned into a headache after the state stepped in and changed the parking. Swimming and fishing at Storrie Lake is a big part of enjoying Northern New Mexico summers for Jim Terr.

“You have to pay $5 to get in, so I and many people go to the north end of the lake beyond the dam which is open and has been just open for years, to swim, to fish, to beachcomb, to walk around,” said Terr, who lives in Las Vegas, New Mexico. “It’s beautiful out there.”

However, he was surprised during his most recent visit with a friend. They discovered a big change when going for a routine swim at the lake. “I pulled up and parked in the usual place,” said Terr. “He said, ‘who put up all these signs, these no parking signs?'”

He says this change makes it nearly impossible to access that end of the lake, blocking off many of the spots visitors would park at. New Mexico’s Department of Transportation says the signs are all to do with safety. “We got some reports that there were some near misses of people entering and exiting these parking areas,” said Travis Martinez with NMDOT District 4, serving the Las Vegas area. “That’s why the district took a look at it.”

The NMDOT says there’s a hill and blind curve just before the parking spots, making it dangerous for people entering and exiting the lakeside spots along NM 518. They say these new signs will also help when it comes to the emergency access gate for park service. “That obviously is dangerous for anyone,” said Martinez. “This is being blocked by motorists that are parking in the state right-of-way.”

Martinez says they’ve now installed “no parking” signs on all four areas on either side of the dam at Storrie Lake. He hopes this will curb some of the dangers along that northern end. “So anything, any decision we’re making, it’s always, ‘is it safe?'” said Martinez. “For the traveling public and anyone else that’s entering or exiting our right-of-way.”

While Terr says he’s never seen any of these near-misses, he hopes drivers would already know to use caution. He says in the future, he’d like to see the NMDOT consider alternate safety options for drivers first, like warning lights before the blind turn.