AFTER MORE THAN A CENTURY OF STORIES, A NEW STORY IS BEING WRITTEN!
Main Street Complete Streets: Taking a Hallway and Making It a Social Living Room.
Downtown Farmington's Main Street Complete Streets project is the culmination of many years of planning. Starting as early as 1968 Farmington has been working on plans for revitalizing downtown. It was determined that downtown Farmington would need to undergo extensive infrastructure improvements, including waterline replacement and electrical grid upgrades.
With this need and the subsequent demolition that would need to take place, a unique opportunity presented itself. City of Farmington Staff, Elected Officials, and City Residents would have the opportunity to redesign and reconstruct Main Street. In 2015 the Metropolitan Redevelopment Area (MRA) Commission decided to hire Dan Burden of Blue Zones, an internationally recognized quality of life consultant and designer to help create a conceptual plan. He along with Samantha Thomas, Built Environment Manager and Michael Wallwork, roundabout Expert and Alternate Street Designer spent several days meeting with residents, property owners, business owners, and city staff and officials seeking input on what we wanted our downtown to be. Through a series of design charrettes and planning meetings they developed a "tool kit" of design elements that would help us achieve our goals. (See the Blue Zones Plan Here)
In 2016 Downtown Farmington: A MainStreet Project along with the City of Farmington Planning Department applied for a New Mexico MainStreet Great Blocks on MainStreet grant and also presented to New Mexico FUNDIT seeking funds to help pay for the project. Unfortunately these attempts were unsuccessful, which convinced the MRA Commission to commit funds to start the design process for the first phase of the project. It was still unclear how the City would pay for construction but at least forward momentum was in progress. In early 2017 Occam Engineering of Albuquerque, NM (now STANTEC) was hired to design the first phase between Miller Avenue and Orchard Avenue.
Then in late 2017 former Mayor Tommy Robert and City Manager Rob Mayes came up with a bold plan to refund and refinance two bonds, which would enable the City to raise the funds to pay for not just the first phase, but all three phases of the project, as well as, several other large quality of life projects in the City. The City Council agreed that this was a great plan and so the City now finds itself in a unique position of being able to fully fund this amazing Creative Placemaking project.
Above you can see an overview of the entire six block project from Miller to Auburn. This project includes many ideas that were generated in the Blue Zones conceptual plan, including modern urban roundabouts, right-sizing the road from four lanes to two, narrowing the travel lanes to 11 feet from 12, widening the sidewalks to an average of 15 feet, and creating a 6 foot wide park assist lane. The park assist lane will make parallel parking, exiting, and entering your vehicle easier and safer while allowing oncoming traffic to continue to move down the street. In addition, to keeping traffic moving smoothly, the modern roundabout reduces noise pollution as well as air pollution by reducing the need for stop and go driving thereby making Historic Downtown Farmington a much more pleasant place to live, work, and play.