Terry Rodahl rides his bike on Monday on North Dustin Avenue in Farmington. Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization officials say North Dustin is a
Terry Rodahl rides his bike on Monday on North Dustin Avenue in Farmington. Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization officials say North Dustin is a good example of "complete streets," a type of design that accommodates vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization is working to produce a document that local municipalities can use to guide development of their streets.

"It's time we work together to see how we can improve our community as a team and not just individual stakeholders," MPO Associate Planner Duane Wakan said.

Traditionally, cities locally have focused on accelerating car and truck traffic through their roadways, he said. And as a result, pedestrians, bikers and other road users have been neglected, he said.

When assembled, cities can use the document as a reference to "balance the needs of all users and integrate the community values of health, safety and economic vitality in an aesthetically pleasing way," according to its vision statement.

This view of 20th Street in Farmington shows a street that is sometimes difficult to cross and that does not invite pedestrian interaction with businesses.
This view of 20th Street in Farmington shows a street that is sometimes difficult to cross and that does not invite pedestrian interaction with businesses. (Courtesy city of Farmington)

The concept can also improve a community's quality of life and improve and sustain market values, MPO Planner Joe Delmagori said. If a community is attractive, passers will more likely linger and visit stores, he said. And if a community's roads are well designed, residents can commute by foot or bike and also visit more stores, he said.

"We found through our research that there's a lot of economic vitality that can result from complete streets," he said.

MPO officials have been developing the document since the end of 2012 as part of its Metropolitan Transportation Plan update. The plan guides development in Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and San Juan County.

The document's concept is new among planning departments, and it is called "complete streets." Delmagori said it is a subset of "smart growth." Smart growth is concept that advocates for compact, sustainable communities rather than sprawling development.

North Dustin Avenue in Farmington is an example of a street aligned to complete street's design approach, Wakan said. The street has a median, sidewalks, bike paths and clear cross walks, and it accommodates cars and trucks as well as pedestrians.

Bike lanes are reflected in Terry Rodahl’s sunglasses on Monday on North Dustin Avenue in Farmington.
Bike lanes are reflected in Terry Rodahl's sunglasses on Monday on North Dustin Avenue in Farmington. (Megan Farmer — The Daily Times)

But a street's specific development is situational, he said. For example, sidewalks or bike paths could require a 15- or 20-foot setback from Pinon Hills Boulevard's faster traffic, he said.

MPO officials are referencing cites in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and other communities that implemented the complete streets concept.

MPO officials also receive advice from officials at San Juan Regional Medical Center, Farmington Metropolitan Redevelopment Area, local economists, the elderly community, county planners, chambers of commerce and developers.

Joe Kozimor, of Joe & Stan, LLC., is one of those developers.

"I think it's a good idea and good for our region for making it more user friendly," he said.

Farmington will benefit from having a plan to guide the development of its streets, he said.

Since he was young, he and others have had issues with Farmington's street design, he said. Drivers can't pass through the city efficiently, and neighborhoods blend together, he said.

He would not comment on smart growth.

"When we were kids we used to say Farmington has the worst streets. ... And here we are today, and we haven't' cleaned anything up," he said. "It's about time we started."

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @Dan_J_Schwartz on Twitter.