LAS CRUCES – City councilors on Monday heard an update on a proposed extension of Mesa Grande Drive, a project that would extend the road south from US Highway 70 to Lohman Avenue and which promises to ease traffic congestion, create an alternate route and reduce travel time citywide.
The project is also billed as a way to support future development on the East Mesa and account for Las Cruces’ growing population.
During a May 9 work session, councilors heard about the proposed roadway extension from Jim Webb, CEO of the Texas-based firm The Goodman Corporation. Webb pitched a proposal for the city to enter into a public-private partnership with Sierra Norte Land Holdings LLC, the company being represented by Goodman.
The extension is estimated to reduce vehicle-miles traveled by more than a thousand miles for the morning and afternoon commutes by creating more efficient routes. It’s estimated to reduce vehicle-hours traveled by more than 750 hours during those same commute times, Webb said.
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Webb said Sierra Norte, a private developer, would provide the local matching funds if the city seeks federal grant funding to complete the extension. Sierra Norte would also fund the design and development of the new roadway as well as convey property, Webb said.
The city would serve as the fiscal agent of federal dollars and would only be responsible for providing staff time to work on the project as well as future maintenance, since the city would retain ownership of the roadway, Webb said.
Mesa Grande currently ends just south of the US 70 underpass, at Organ Mountain High School. Not only would the proposed extension connect the road with Lohman, which ceases at its intersection with Sonoma Ranch Boulevard, but connections would also be completed with Sonora Springs Avenue, Calle Jitas Boulevard, Northrise Drive and Sedona Hills Parkway, which would all intersect with the new route.
Webb said the proposed roadway would be a tree-lined, two-way street with a median which also incorporates walking and biking accessibility. Councilors emphasized the desire to make the new route as pedestrian-friendly as possible.
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A proposed cost and timeline for the project was not discussed. The roadway extension conforms to the city’s Elevate Las Cruces comprehensive plan.
“It all could be developed,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said. “I think you could see a lot more housing there that Las Crucens can afford.”
The mayor also praised the plan as a way to reduce traffic on US 70 and add another route to get on the highway.
At a future city council meeting, the council is expected to vote whether to approve the creation of a public-private partnership before planning and design gets underway and funding is sought.
Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for the Sun News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, [email protected] or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.