By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 9/13/19
“People complain that they don’t see us out working, except what they can’t see from their car is that we’re working deep in a trench,” explained Ryan Tafoya, New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) District One project manager for the Valley Drive construction. He said, “Just because you see the trucks standing still, doesn’t mean there’s not a whole group of us in the trench installing storm drains and underground utility pipes.”
Slated to last until February, the Valley Drive road reconstruction runs deep. The storm drains, nearly the size of a car, are installed, at the deepest, 21 feet under the ground. The sewer pipes are dug in at 13 feet, and new water pipes are placed at 4 feet beneath the surface of the ground. Heavy dirt moves slowly and needs to be safely compacted. Then trench boxes are placed in the huge holes, large metal contraptions that hold the walls of dirt steady, so workers don’t have to worry about tons of earth collapsing on them.
“Storm water drainage is going to be a huge benefit for the area,” said Tafoya, “There was no drainage before on Valley Drive and that is always a cause for concern for motorists. And now we’ll have even more cyclists, with dedicated bike lanes.”
As the residents and business owners have seen the first sections of Valley Drive completed, like the road between Picacho Avenue and Hadley Avenue, Tafoya has heard positive reports back. “The traffic is flowing now, and they see that it looks nice,” he said. “We know that we’re impacting residents with the second phase in the middle too, but, we’re on schedule now.”
“Valley Drive is a main artery of the city; I think once people see the completed work, they should be extremely happy because it won’t just be aesthetically pleasing, it will be functional and safe, the underground utilities will be updated, there won’t be wide ponds of standing water after rainstorms, and the green lights will be synchronized for more efficient driving.” In a recent NMDOT meeting, Tafoya also assured residents that the previous roadway driving speeds will remain the same.
The next public meeting will be Tuesday, September 17th. You can ask Tafoya more questions at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in the Roadrunner Room from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For any pressing concerns, like access to your business, please contact Tafoya directly at 575-418-7891.
The City of Las Cruces encourages residents to continue to support local Valley Drive businesses, and work with our local Chambers of Commerce in their efforts to provide support. For the most up-to-date information please visit www.valleydrive.net.
PHOTO 1: The Valley Drive construction runs deep. The storm drains, nearly the size of a car, are 16 feet under the ground, with sewer at 13 feet and new water pipes at 4 feet. Ryan Tafoya and his team, alongside the contractors working for AUI are determined to build the best road for Las Cruces to grow into.