Could a trail someday link Aztec and Farmington? Regional planning committee is optimistic

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
A trail runs through Riverside Park in Aztec. The Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization has discussed a potential trail connecting Aztec to Farmington.

AZTEC — As San Juan County seeks to diversify the economy by promoting outdoor recreation, the Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization is considering a trail system linking Farmington and Aztec.

The proposed route would follow the old railroad right of way. While much of that right of way remains in the public domain, other sections would have to be acquired.

Farmington is currently in the process of developing a trail system that spans the length of the city along the Animas River. Aztec has some trails along the river as well, including connecting Aztec Ruins National Monument with the downtown corridor.

MPO staff presented information about a proposed trail during the Feb. 25 policy committee meeting, however the technical committee has also been discussing the possibility.

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The Animas River runs along one of Farmington's planned trail areas located off of County Road 3000 in east Farmington.

The Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization consists of representatives from Farmington, Aztec, Kirtland, Bloomfield, San Juan County and the New Mexico Department of Transportation. The member entities discuss and plan for the future of transportation including roads and trails.

Both the Farmington and Aztec committee members expressed support for a linking trail.

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“I know that in Farmington we’re heavily invested in our river trail,” said MPO Policy Committee Chairman and Farmington City Councilor Sean Sharer.

Sharer said it would be nice if someone could get on the trails on one side of Farmington and take them all the way to Aztec and “not have to worry about getting ran over by a car.”

A woman jogs along a trail, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Animas Park in Farmington.

He added that he thinks it would be a good investment for the community, especially from a biking perspective.

Commissioner Rosalyn Fry, who represents Aztec on the MPO Policy Committee, said everyone she has talked to has been excited that it might be a possibility.

“With the interest in diversifying our economy and drawing more tourism in plus providing trails for the folks that live here, I think it’s an excellent idea,” she said.

The MPO hopes there could be federal funding for such an initiative.

Pedestrians cross a bridge, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021, in Aztec's Riverside Park.

Changes could be coming to metropolitan statistical area criteria

The MPO Policy Committee also expressed concerns about a proposal at the federal level that could result in Farmington losing its status as a metropolitan statistical area. This proposal would increase the population requirements for a metropolitan statistical area. Currently, the Farmington Metropolitan Statistical Area encompasses San Juan County. If the population requirements were to change, Farmington would become a micropolitan statistical area.

The Policy Committee expressed concerns that this could harm efforts to attract businesses to the area.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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