By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 7/12/19
On Monday, June 24th, residents of District 4 gathered at an evening community meeting, hosted by City Councilor Jack Eakman and held at the Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) Administration building on Motel Blvd. There were plenty of topics on the agenda, from traffic to crime, but the one that held the most attention was the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) road reconstruction on Valley Drive.
About 20 residents attended, and there were nearly as many City of Las Cruces (CLC) staff available to answer questions. “While this is a NMDOT project, we’re happy to have Councilor Eakman host his District meeting at the Utilities building because we want to be available for any questions that we might be able to answer about Valley Drive construction,” said Dr. Jorge A. Garcia, P.E., LCU director. “When the state’s projects - like this one - run into City utility lines like water, wastewater, and gas, it’s up to us to be ready to supply upgrades where needed.”
LCU staff was joined by employees from CLC Public Works (PW) who provided updates on the road reconstruction. David Maestas, PW director, explained that Phases 1 and 3 of the Valley Drive project were heading into final stages and should be complete within
the month, and how the new storm drains were tested during rain-soaked episodes from the last few weeks.
“Our water flows from the mountains to the river,” explained Maestas, “but Valley Drive is a low area where we must divert storm water, so it doesn’t flood nearby businesses and neighborhoods.”
Councilor Eakman asked about extending upgraded utilities to nearby, older District 4 neighborhoods, since main utility lines under Valley Drive were already being dug up. Maestas explained that the benefit to nearby residents is the new stub outs for upgraded utilities, meaning that in time, services can be upgraded to those areas.
Maestas explained how the two road reconstruction Phases happened at the same time, which was not how the project was originally planned. The decision was made by the contractor, AUI, Inc. and the NMDOT – responsible for roadway reconstruction, utility replacements and lighting/signalization improvements on Valley Drive from Picacho Avenue to and including Avenida de Mesilla and Hickory. As Maestas started detailing more specific updates, one resident called out, “Well, it’s much better than it was.”
If you missed the District 4 meeting, head out to the next NMDOT meeting on Tuesday, July 16th, at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library’s Roadrunner Room (second floor) from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Find more information at www.ValleyDrive.net. Aerial photographs overlaid with streets will detail the most current closures; state engineers and Utilities staff will be available for questions. For immediate concerns please contact Project Manager Ryan Tafoya at (575) 418-7891.
The NMDOT Valley Drive road reconstruction project is scheduled for completion in early 2020; in the meantime, the City of Las Cruces encourages residents to continue supporting local businesses and stores on Valley Drive.
PHOTO 1: Public Works Director, David Maestas, answers questions at the District 4 Community Meeting hosted by City Councilor Jack Eakman. The hot topic was the Valley Drive road reconstruction; LCU answered questions regarding all services impacted - water, wastewater, and gas.