Farmington edges closer to road extension

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON – City officials are in the process of submitting plat and right of way information to the New Mexico Department of Transportation for approval in connection to the planned Piñon Hills Boulevard extension, according to City Engineer Nica Westerling.

City Engineer Nica Westerling talks about the specifics of the planned expansion of Piñon Hills Boulevard on Thursday at the street's intersection with East Main Street.

The extension will connect east Farmington with Crouch Mesa. Currently, residents of Crouch Mesa must either drive through Flora Vista or take Browning Parkway to get to Farmington. The proposed road will give them more direct access to shopping in east Farmington, including WalMart, the Animas Valley Mall and other businesses. Officials have been planning the extension for more than two decades, and the city already has bought all the land needed to build the road and secured the rights of way.

During its Jan. 26 meeting, the City Council approved consolidating 30 residential lots into four tracts that will enable the city to build the planned extension.

The extension will be built in phases, and the city will extend the road to County Road 3000 before San Juan County takes over the project and builds a road up the mesa where a dirt road currently exists.

Westerling said the first step of the project will be reconfiguring the intersection at Piñon Hills Boulevard and Main Street. She said the intersection will include two left-turn lanes in every direction once it is completed. Westerling said there will be lane restrictions during the construction, but the road will not be closed.

The most expensive part of the multi-million-dollar extension will be the bridge over the Animas River. Westerling said the bridge will be part of phase two of the project, and she estimated it will cost $12 million. The entire project will cost the city of Farmington more than $17.7 million, according to Westerling.

The third phase of the project will be funded by San Juan County. The entire road will cost more than $26 million, according to The Daily Times archives.

City Engineer Nica Westerling describes the planned expansion of Piñon Hills Boulevard on Thursday near the street's intersection with East Main Street.

The design work on the project will likely begin in 2019, and construction of the extension will start the following year, she said.

A park and trails system will be built along the extension, and the road will connect two residential subdivisions — the Rancho de Animas subdivision and the Hubbard Road subdivision.

Westerling said the city has had several public meetings with the residents in the two subdivisions.

“The neighborhood was very active in what they wanted and didn’t want,” she said.

The majority of residents understood the need to connect Crouch Mesa to east Farmington, though they were not enthusiastic about the extension running by their houses. Westerling said many residents were concerned about increased traffic in and out of the subdivisions. The city is planning on monitoring the traffic before and after the extension is built.

She said residents were supportive of the park and voted in favor of having a trails system rather than a playground. This trails system later will be connected with the river trails in other parts of Farmington, including Animas and Berg parks.

Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.