Church and Water conversion project off to smooth start

Church and Water conversion project off to smooth start

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By MIKE COOK, Las Cruces Bulletin

The conversion of Church and Water streets from one-way to two-way traffic has gotten off to a smooth start.

The project began June 12, with about three-quarters to one mile of Church and Water (about 10 city blocks) between Lohman Avenue and Picacho Avenue to be re-configured. It also includes street resurfacing, new curbs and sidewalks, and utility upgrades for parts of both streets, as well as complete reconstruction of Griggs, Bowman and Las Cruces avenues.

Construction is expected to continue through the winter of 2018.

“The contractor is just flying through this project,” City of Las Cruces Downtown Coordinator Andy Hume said at the city’s Church-Water open house on July 13 in Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science downtown. “They are just doing an amazing job.”

As the project progresses, city workers are removing and replacing utility lines underneath the streets that are, in some cases, 60 to 80 years old, Project Manager Jimmy Moreno said. Some old sewer lines are made of baked clay, he said, and some water lines are asbestos with concrete reinforcement. Those lines have to be removed without creating airborne fibers, Moreno said. Other lines are made of cast iron, and some run as deep as seven feet below the surface.

“I think we’re well on our way to accomplishing some things we’ve been working on for a long time,” Mayor Pro-Tem Greg Smith said at the meeting.

The conversion is “one of the largest public works projects the city has ever undertaken in scope and in cost,” Hume had said at an April 18 public meeting about the project. It will “promote the goals of revitalization that have been developed and implemented over 20-plus years,” according to a project poster, and will, Hume said, make downtown “a place to drive to, not through.”

The city’s goal is to “complete the roadway project with minimal disruption to businesses and their customers,” Hume said. The city will “keep at least one lane of travel open throughout the entire project.”

The city is “making an extra effort” to keep the public – and especially downtown business owners – informed about the progress of the project, Smith said at the July 13 meeting. “The city is doing a lot of things correctly” to help businesses stay open and accessible. The project, he said, will make downtown an “easily accessible and engaging part of town. It’s coming together.”

To keep current with the construction, visit www.las-cruces.org and click on “Church-Water Conversion.” You can also follow the construction on the city’s and Downtown Las Cruces Partnership’s Facebook pages and on Twitter. And, you can call the city Public Works Department at 575-528-3098 for more information.

The city has published a “Construction Survival Guide” (also on the website) for downtown businesses to help them “with some best practices and ideas to assist in surviving construction projects,” Mayor Ken Miyagishima said in a letter to business owners in the guide.

Hume said the construction project will be conducted on a 30-day cycle, with city staff meeting with the contractor every month to discuss the previous month and what’s coming up.

Mike Cook may be reached at mike@lascrucesbulletin.com.

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