By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Conrad Estrada is determined to stay patient and positive about the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) road reconstruction of Valley Drive. Estrada started Images ‘N Iron in 1998, but he moved into the 420 South Valley Drive location five years ago. He says there is a noticeable dip in walk-in traffic since the road construction began.
“There will always be growing pains, but we need to stay positive and let NMDOT do what they need to,” said Estrada. “What is the benefit for anyone to be negative about Valley Drive? We need to wait it out. The infrastructure needs to be improved because Las Cruces is growing and it needs to keep up.”
Estrada says Images ‘N Iron is a busy hub for those who need metal fabrication and powder coating. “Fabrication is the manufacturing or creating something with any type of metal,” Estrada explains. “We design and fabricate ornamental projects, using computers and plasma cutting, and welding.” Powder coating is a dry paint application that’s statically charged, baked on at 400 degrees, and has no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) associated with it and no hazardous waste.
Estrada realized that there was a need for powder coating after he needed some work done for his cars. Slowly, he expanded to more intricate projects like black boxes found on airplanes, motorcycle and race car chassis, medical equipment, gates, fences and doors. Some of the local hospitals use his services for powder coating air vents that go into operating rooms.
Similarly, he coats shelves for restaurants with food-safe coating. “You’d be surprised what sort of damage jars of pickles and jalapeños can do to a shelf,” Estrada laughed.
NMDOT UPDATE: The Valley Drive contractor, AUI, Inc., is now working 7 days a week performing roadway reconstruction, utility replacements and lighting/signalization improvements on Valley Drive and Avenida de Mesilla. The goal is to complete Phase 1 and Phase 3 of the project as quickly as possible – the entire project is anticipated to be complete in early 2020. The next NMDOT monthly meeting for residents and businesses is Tuesday, May 21st, at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library in the Roadrunner Room at 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. For the most up-to-date information please visit www.valleydrive.net. If you have questions, please contact Project Manager Ryan Tafoya 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.
PHOTO 1: Juan Jimenez, J.D. Orduñez, Conrad Estrada (owner), and Benjamin Elizaldez show off one of their newest creations at Images ‘N Iron. They appreciate the support of the local community who values intricate and detailed metal fabrication and powder coating work.
PHOTO 2: The Images ‘N Iron sign stands tall above the barriers that mark the NMDOT road reconstruction below on Valley Drive.