By Steve Ramirezfirstname.lastname@example.org Las Cruces Sun-News Posted: lcsun-news.com
LAS CRUCES — The "road less traveled" by many of Las Cruces' recreational walkers and bicyclists is about to become the road more traveled.
Certainly, the "road" will be longer, providing an opportunity for some people to now travel a loop around Las Cruces without being too encumbered by vehicles.
"I like it," said Tasha Mercado, a Las Cruces budget analyst, of the all-but-finished multi-use path along the Las Cruces Outfall Channel, from Triviz Drive to the La Lloroña trail, next to the Rio Grande. "I've walked most it from where I live near Legends West to the Triviz trail. They've done a good job in building it. It's a smooth surface, and it hasn't been very crowded at all, probably because people are now more spread out on the other parts of the trail. I'm looking forward to taking my kids out on it."
The 4.5-mile new trail will connect the Triviz Multi-Purpose Path with the La Lloroña Trail, and to trails that link to the north end of the New Mexico State University campus. That essentially creates a loop around Las Cruces, that some Facebook users have estimated to be more than 32 miles long.
"From a bicyclists' standpoint, it's a great path, something that's really been needed for a long time," said Henry Graham, a part-time NMSU student who uses the path daily to ride his bicycle to and from classes. "Having the path takes a lot of the worries out of having to share the streets with motorists who aren't always courteous or sympathetic to bicyclists. It'll be nice, too, if and when I finally decide to ride the path all the way around. Some of my friends
who ride bikes a lot have told me that loop around the city is a nice way to exercise, relax, on a Saturday or Sunday."
The project's completion has taken about 4 1/2 months longer than city officials expected. However, the delay was caused by something the city didn't have any control of — burrowing owls. A nest of the protected species was discovered in late summer adjacent to the path in an area between Motel Boulevard and La Lloroña Park.
The discovery prompted final construction of the trail to be suspended. City officials and staff members worked with NMSU biologists, who recommended the project be halted until early fall, when the burrowing owls would find a new place to nest. "Staff received clearance to proceed with the project in the owl nesting area in mid-September," Assistant City Manager Brian Denmark said. "Burn Construction (project contractors) restarted work on October 1 and recently finished.
"The project is essentially complete and the trail was completely open to the public on November 9. Staff will provide public notice that the path is officially open once the final inspection has been held and the punch list completed, even though the public has been allowed to use portions of the trail."
Final inspection of the new trail is tentatively scheduled Dec. 12.
At the easternmost end of the new path, where it links with the Triviz Multi-Purpose Path, crosswalk beacons have been installed that will aid walkers, bicyclists, and perhaps skateboarders trying to get to or from the new trail. Motorists who frequently travel north or south on Triviz should be aware the warning lights are operational and they should stop, or at least slow down, if people are trying to cross. "The crosswalk beacons are push button activated," Denmark said. "The existing project will not reduce the speed limits at the crossing along Triviz. If the crossing beacons do not work as designed, then the city could conduct a study that could potentially reduce the speed limits at the crossing and along the curve (along that portion of Triviz)."
Unlike the Triviz trail, the new path to the La Lloroña Trail will not be lit. Denmark said the new path has signs advising residents it is available for day use only.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRamirez6