Metropolitan Planning Organization group hears report

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BLOOMFIELD — Outdoor recreation is being viewed by local government officials as a key element in the future of San Juan County.

As part of that belief, local government entities are working with a Durango, Colorado-based firm to develop a new, updated bicycle and pedestrian plan.

The Farmington Metropolitan Planning Organization Policy Committee heard a presentation about the project during its meeting today in Bloomfield.

The Farmington MPO is made up of representatives of the cities of Farmington, Bloomfield and Aztec, as well as officials from San Juan County and the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Kirtland also is being included in the bicycle and pedestrian plan because the town will be joining the MPO in the future.

The MPO fcreated a bicycle and pedestrian plan in 2008, and the document has not been updated in a decade.

The MPO contracted with Russell Planning and Engineering in March to create the updated plan.

Nancy Lauro, a senior planner for Russell Planning and Engineering, said the 2008 plan focused on connecting trails and a lack of paths. The 2008 plan can be viewed online at fmtn.org.

The updated plan will tie in with local governments’ plans to develop an outdoor recreation-based economy through the Outdoor Recreation Industry Initiative. It also will look at using roads and infrastructure developed for the oil and gas industries as trails.

“We really saw that as something that wasn’t in there, but really needs to be in there,” Lauro said.

The firm is using apps like Strava, a social network for athletes, to identify where people run or bike in the area. The Strava app syncs with phones, GPS watches and other devices to track performance. It also shows trails and routes.

Lauro showed the committee a heat map of popular trails in San Juan County. She said the white trails, like Alien Run north of Aztec, are the most utilized trails by Strava users.

Farmington Mayor and MPO Policy Committee chairman Nate Duckett said the MPO bicycle and pedestrian plan ties in well with the ORII.

“This is perfect timing for us,” he said.

The MPO policy committee meets monthly. The next meeting is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24 in the San Juan County Commission Chambers, 100 S. Oliver Drive in Aztec.

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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