New Mexico

Push to allow big semi trucks through town upsets some Lincoln residents

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.M. (KRQE) - Lincoln, New Mexico: It’s best known as the place where Billy the Kid roamed. The town itself is home to just a few hundred people.

"It's quiet, it's quaint,” said Katherine Marsh, who lives in Lincoln and runs the Wortley Hotel.

But around 50,000 to 60,000 people visit each year to see its historic sites, like the Lincoln County Courthouse where Billy the Kid made his escape.

People like Marsh want to do everything they can to preserve that history, and say signs leading into town prohibiting large semi-trucks help to do just that.

"We're on the National Historic Registry. There are seven museums that line Lincoln, that are adobe from 150 years old and they actually...the trucks coming through here make them crumble,” she said.

Trucks over 65 feet on U.S. 380 between Hondo and Carrizozo cannot go through without a permit.

Now, some people, including Commissioner Preston Stone, are questioning the legality of the signs.

He wants them taken down and says there's no state statute to back them up.

"It should be all trucks, regardless of length. It is a U.S. federal highway, that highway receives federal funds,” said Stone.

He says if allowed, the truck traffic would be minimal and would provide a more direct route for truck drivers.

“It is an east to west corridor for truck traffic to go to cut the mileage down and to save them a tremendous amount of money on transporting goods,” he said.

But Marsh says taking the signs down is also a safety concern, with tourists crossing the streets constantly.

"It would also take away the ambiance that they're experiencing when they come here. Lincoln's a perfectly preserved time capsule in history,” said Marsh.

The Department of Transportation says at this time, they don't plan to remove the signs, and the significant curves on the highway warrant the signs.

Commissioner Stone said he's looking at fixing those curves to allow for the bigger trucks, but that would take funding from the state.


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