By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 9/20/19
The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) road reconstruction of Valley Drive has required complex coordination between the State agency, the City of Las Cruces, and AUI, Inc. (the contractor). The project involves not only the streets and traffic sections of Las Cruces Public Works, but also the water, wastewater and gas sections of Las Cruces Utilities.
After all, the Valley Drive project includes installing huge storm water drains, where there was no drainage previously, and new underground utility pipes.
So who is the coordinator? NMDOT assistant project manager Matthew Smith, is the point person in the field for all the agencies, contractors and businesses that line Valley Drive. “I start the process of solving problems,” said Smith. “A lot of time we can resolve issues relatively quickly, especially with the contractors who might have concerns about the project plan.”
Before a shovel hits the ground, the project plan is completed - which includes designers on site in person to make sure that their plan is feasible for the area. However, sometimes the best laid plans go astray; things happen like finding old pipes that break and disrupt businesses, or discovering strange and unexpected things underground, such as an old barn, that must be evaluated for its historical value.
“But many times, just knowing where to look for a solution helps to keep the contractor and the project moving forward,” said Smith. “Other times we have to move the problem up the chain to get the right answers.”
Sometimes moving up the chain is working with the City of Las Cruces. “LCU Water and Gas have participated and coordinated with the City of Las Cruces Public Works to assist NMDOT and move this project forward on the accelerated schedule,” explained Deputy Director of Water Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E. “This project is very important for Utilities in upgrading the natural gas, water, and wastewater systems on Valley Drive.”
If you have questions about the Valley Drive road reconstruction progress, please come to one of the NMDOT monthly public meetings at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library. Matthew Smith will be there to answer any questions business owners or residents may have about the final phase of the construction.
The NMDOT Valley Drive road reconstruction project is scheduled for completion in early 2020; in the meantime, the City of Las Cruces encourages residents to continue supporting local businesses and stores on Valley Drive. More information on monthly update meetings at www.valleydrive.net.
PHOTO 1: The NMDOT road reconstruction project on Valley Drive includes installing huge storm water drains, where there was no drainage previously, and new underground utility pipes.