Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City Prefers New Franklin Mountains State Park Entrance, Gives Park 600 Acres

A rural road (highlighted in green) would lead to the new entrance.
City Council voted unanimously to support a new entrance to Franklin Mountains State Park on the west side at it's July 17, 2012 meeting. The new route was recommended by the Public Service Board after an examination of how the Loop 375 Transmountain Road expansion would affect those wishing to access the park using the current entrance. The City has chosen a route that would move the entrance northward and off of a different arterial altogether.

Currently, eastbound park visitors must cross one lane of oncoming highway traffic on Transmountain Road, vehicles which come at a high rate of speed. Construction is currently underway which will widen Transmountain to two lanes in each direction, making the highway crossing even more dangerous.

In a meeting earlier this month, the Public Service Board reviewed several options for how to handle the state park's entrance and its connection to Loop 375. Options included multiple interchange designs at the current entrance, but board members decided that these choices would require too much space and be too costly. Instead, they opted for creating a "rural" road off of Paseo del Norte which will lead to a new wilderness center and entrance. Visitors to the park will use the Paseo del Norte at Transmountain interchange west of the current entrance. City Council approved this recommendation to the Texas Department of Transportation, which will ultimately decide the option to utilize.

In a related agenda item, City Council voted to approve giving the State Park 600 acres of City-owned land that is currently mapped as open-space in the Northwest Master Plan. The acreage abuts the current Franklin Mountains State Park to the east and would supplement what is currently the largest park within city limits in the entire country. Wording in the deed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department states the the land must be used as open space and cannot be sold for other purposes. In the event the State decides to sell the land, it would immediately be transferred back to the City.

City Council Park Entrance Agenda Item (PDF): http://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/agenda/07-17-12/07171210A-2.pdf
City Council State Park Acreage Agenda Item (PDF): http://www.elpasotexas.gov/muni_clerk/agenda/07-17-12/07171210A-1.pdf

Previously:
Northwest Plan Doubles Open Space, Adds 'Villages'

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