The Las Cruces City Council has asked City staff to provide an assessment of all Las Cruces intersections to determine which ones could pose increased safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists. City Council also seeks enhanced efforts to educate pedestrians and bicyclists.
The Council’s requests came from a Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety presentation received during its Monday, June 28 Work Session, conducted via video conference. The presentation to Council was provided by Mesilla Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) staff.
MPO staff recently studied some intersections in the MPO Planning Area from a non-motorized safety perspective. The MPO study focused on the intersections of Lohman Avenue and Walton Boulevard, and Missouri Avenue and Triviz Drive. The study also looked at Elks Drive and north Main Street, but the Council was told the Elks and Main intersection is under the authority of the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
The presentation disclosed that according to a Governor’s Highway Association 2020 preliminary report, New Mexico had the highest pedestrian death rate in the U.S. – 2.12 per 100,000 residents – and 45 deaths during the reporting period. During 2019, the most recent year data was available to the MPO, there were 10 non-motorized fatalities in the MPO Area.
The data presented by the MPO also showed there were three non-motorized crashes each at the Lohman and Walton, and Missouri and Triviz intersections from 2015 to 2018. MPO staff also presented City Council with infrastructure improvement options aimed at reducing the potential for non-motorized crashes.
The infrastructure options for pedestrian crossings presented to City Council included:
- Pedestrian refuges, or median islands at the center of a wide intersection where pedestrians could safely cross halfway through an intersection, then wait before completing their crossing to the opposite side of the intersection.
- Curb extensions, which would create a shorter crossing distance at a wide intersection.
- Continental striping at intersections, which would use wider, more distinctive striping of crosswalks rather than using single horizontal stripes to define a crosswalk.
- Raised crosswalks, which could serve as additional traffic calming measures.
Infrastructure improvements for bicyclists that were presented to the Council included:
- Bike boxes, where bicycle lanes would be painted green at intersections to provide improved safety for bicyclists.
- Protected intersections, which would be similar to raised crosswalks and could mutually help pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Increased development and use of roundabouts.
Additionally, during Monday’s Work Session, the Council received a quarterly update from the Alliance for Regional Military Support (ARMS), a non-profit 501 (c)6 organization whose mission is to support White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base, Fort Bliss, and by extension, William Beaumont Army Medical Center.
City Council was told some of the more notable initiatives ARMS intends to continue to do are to work closely with Army Futures Command, in Austin, Texas, to re-engage bringing experts to the region to deliver needed information to small businesses to highlight the region’s capabilities. Also, ARMS has developed a strong relationship with retired Army Brig. Gen. Eric Sanchez, who is now the director of the Physical Science Laboratory at New Mexico State University.
ARMS wants to work with Sanchez to develop curricula to assist with Test and Evaluation staffing needs at White Sands Missile Range. Doing so could enable NMSU students to work in New Mexico after earning degrees.
ARMS also plans to collaborate with Raytheon Technologies to develop increased opportunities for local Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students. The City entered into an agreement with ARMS in late 2020 to perform promotion and advocacy services.
The Work Session began with an Audit Entrance Conference presentation to the Council from representatives of Patillo, Brown, and Hill, the City's contracted external auditors. The scope and objectives of the City’s 2021 fiscal year annual audit review were outlined to City Council.
The scope of the annual audit review will include the City of Las Cruces, South Central Solid Waste Authority, the downtown Tax Increment Development District, Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority, and Metro Narcotics Agency. The audit must be submitted to the New Mexico State Auditor by December 1.