EL PASO — Driving along Trans Mountain Road it is possible to enjoy beautiful views of the natural scenery that surrounds the area, and a panoramic view of the city of El Paso.
According to The Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition, this beautiful area could end up looking like the two gateways near Cielo Vista Mall: big signs promoting gas stations, and business along the road blocking the beautiful natural view.
Although the El Paso City Council approved a plan to enlarge the road Tuesday, the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition submitted a second petition asking the Council to reconsider the project. Their goal at first was to get 1,000 signatures according to a blog by Coalition member Jim Tolbert. “I know we were close or over 1,900 signatures,” he said. According to Tolbert’s blog, the new petition was sent because a first one did not have enough valid signatures to make it to the Council.
According to the Coalition, the project threatens to damage the natural scenic corridor, putting at risk wildlife habitats and potentially invaluable recreational land. They fear that the Trans Mountain road will foster commercial and residential development.
The petition asks for an evaluation and analysis of the project and urges the El Paso City Council to rezone as natural open space all publicly owned land so that the widening of the road won’t harm that area. The City Council argues that a safer road and a safer entrance to the National Park will be built. Others say that the project would create new jobs since it will draw $80 million dollars in state funds.
Some think that the developers will benefit by the increased property value by having this roads built, and should donate right of way for the project. However, there are those holding rights of way hostage for concessions such as digital signs for gas stations.
Coalition president Scott Cutler said that one of the concerns that people have is that the transformation of this road would not only create a safer road with two lanes in each direction but also there might be overpasses built in order to access businesses that would spring up along the road. “If the land that is public-service-board managed is designated as open space, and is never sold to developers, with no business put on it, then there would be no need to develop overpasses in that area, and that would protect the view so it would be like scenic corridor,” Cutler said.
Cutler also said that most people think that the expansion of the road is important. “The expansion of the road does not affect the view that much, it just makes it safer.” However, Cutler said that there is concern about the development that would go along with the road, like billboards and business going all the way to the state park boundaries.