Joe Delmagori, a planner with the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, says an urban planning concept known as Complete Streets is a major step in changing San Juan County for the better.
"Essentially, it's the fact that you have more options to get around," Delmagori said.
If Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and other area communities continue to develop as they are now, the main roads between them will become increasingly congested until they reach capacity, he said.
Complete Streets aims to accommodate all forms of travel on one roadway, but is flexible enough to be adapted to different types of neighborhoods, he said.
Examples include wide sidewalks with benches in a downtown setting and slower speeds and bicycle lanes on a residential street.
A simple solution for some of Farmington's streets is to repaint crosswalks and lane markings to make them more visible, Delmagori said.
Options for side streets include redesigning parking, filling in gaps in sidewalks and installing five-foot wide bicycle lanes, he said.
Metropolitan planning organizations in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque have all passed Complete Streets resolutions.
At this time, Complete Streets is in its presentation phase.
"I'm going to try and line up more presentations after the holidays," Delmagori said. "We're not really sure where we're taking this yet, but I hope to create guidelines and plans soon.
Although no official decision has been made, Mayor Tommy Roberts says Farmington's Downtown might be an ideal place to implement the program.
"The concept is very compatible with Downtown redevelopment plans," Roberts said. "The idea behind improving Downtown is to bring in more people. You need an attractive environment to bring in people."
The Complete Streets concept began as a reaction to automobile dependence in the United States. Oregon became the first state to adopt a Complete Streets policy when it passed its 1971 bill requiring that roads accommodate bicycles and pedestrians.
National supporters of complete streets claim that implementing the program improves safety, lowers transportation costs, encourages good health, creates a sense of place through increased social interaction and raises property values.