Public Meeting Notes

We are pleased to announce the success of the two public meetings last week! We heard from a lot participants about their vision for a future trail, as well as what amenities it should include, and destinations it should connect to. The following are some of the key points from the meetings. Notes from each meeting can also be download here. A PDF of marked up maps can also be downloaded here (warning, large file).

Vision

  • The Rio Grande:
    • “Embrace it and celebrate it”
    • Would like the trail to stick as closely to the river as possible
    • Touch on historical crossing points and modern day border crossings
  • Emphasize cultural landscapes of route
    • The levees and canals represent the cultural identity and history of the area (farming, the flow of the Rio Grande, etc.)
  • Highlight neighborhoods on both sides of the border to “re-personalize” them and bring out community stories
    • Support for businesses along both sides of route
    • Local artist opportunities to make it truly local
  • Tie to historical events/markers/periods
    • San Elizario area
    • Paso del Norte Crossing point (Oñate’s crossing point)
    • Whole valley’s history
    • Rio Bosque connection
    • Weave multiple themes together
  • Social/environmental justice of trail routes
    • Create safe routes to schools and have trails that can be used for day-to-day activities, not just recreation

Amenities & Trail Design Features

  • Plan for wide accessibility for multiple user groups, especially those with disabilities.
    • Signage could indicate difficulty levels and distance/walk/bike times
    • Mile markers to identify where you are…
    • ADA Compliance
    • Make sure to consider all modes of transportation as complementary (take a multi-modal approach to design)
  • Sustainability and environmental concerns
    • Look into the use of sustainable materials
    • Use recycle materials along trail – specifically for trail surface (there may be a way to use recycled tires)
    • Use local materials where possible, not just recycled materials
  • Surfacing materials are important to consider
    • Concrete is hard on runners – the Katy Trail in Dallas has a good paved surface
  • Wayside exhibits and interpretive signage.
    • Interpretative design features highlighting each neighborhood
    • Markers for historical areas/sites
    • Make interactive and use new technologies to appeal to multiple age groups.
    • Scavenger hunt, QR codes, learning opportunities and prizes)
    • Sponsorships from businesses
  • Need for shade: create shade “oases” along route.
  • Make pet friendly and provide access to water
  • Community gardens along route

Important Connections

  • Rio Bosque Wetland in Socorro is an important asset to connect to. The wetlands are a draw for bird watching, internal trails, and other outdoor amenities.
  • Possibility to connect to Mesilla Valley Bosque State Park in Mesilla, NM
  • Old Asarco Plan is the “keystone” to this project as it is a barrier as well as close to the original “Paso del Norte”
  • Highway 621/180/Montana are another possible connection/corridor to consider
  • Transit connections
  • Tigua Indian land/areas are important (they own sites along the river)
  • EPCO Historic District
  • Historical Missions and Mission Trail
  • Tie to Transit Orientated Design/Development (TOD) areas

Route Challenges

  • How do we plan to work with Railroad, the Water District and other entities that own right-of-way along trail route? There are areas along existing railroad tracks that are hard/impossible to cross. Will the various railroad companies allow the use of their right-of-way? Are there liability concerns near tracks or ditches?
    • Railroad is a major obstacle in Downtown – can be 30-minute wait for train switching
    • Need over/underpass connections
  • There may be challenges as well as opportunities in following ditch/irrigation channels due to service roads.
  • Border fence creates “militarized” area along downtown – how do we deal with that?
    • Coordinate with IBWC regarding access to and near the river.
  • It’s really hard to bike on the west side due to traffic/connection issues
    • EP Bike Club, Velo El Paso are aware of routes through Downtown/UTEP
  • Upper Valley to Downtown Gap:
    • Paisano Bike Corridor – a clear connection opportunity that TxDOT has not supported
    • There may be a way to use EP Electric Company easements
  • Chamizal Area:
    • Problems and opportunities in this area to creating connections and safe routes to school
  • There are issues with the existing County Club Trail that “just ends”
  • El Paso Marathon Routes
    • Could be a national draw
    • It’s hard to find places to run in El Paso
    • Ft Bliss used to allow access for the route, but no longer
    • I-10 is a major impediment to finding a route.
    • Fabens and Mesilla are the closest opportunities for riverside bike and running routes.
  • General safety concerns of biking in El Paso
  • Maintenance along entire route may be difficult to coordinate
  • Mosquitos are a concern along the river and similar rural areas

Questions

  • How will this project be phased and built?
  • Questions about how and when environmental assessments/issues will be addressed in this project
  • Who will operate and manage trail in the future?
  • How will maintenance be handled?

One Comment

  1. Amy Lucero, Upper Valley Medical Clinic

    What about the Rio Grande River trail that currently exists between Sunland Park, through Canutillo to the New Mexico state line at Anthony? That is already a paved walking and biking trail. I did not see anything addressed about this existing area, and if it can be included rather than bypassed. There is limited parking areas that could definitely be improved. It is a wonderful area full of wildlife and should be part of this Paso Del Norte Trail project.

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