A view facing north near the intersection of Main Avenue and Aztec Boulevard from a pedestrian trail that will connect downtown Aztec with the Aztec Ruins
A view facing north near the intersection of Main Avenue and Aztec Boulevard from a pedestrian trail that will connect downtown Aztec with the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Commissioners voted Monday evening to approve a less expensive proposal for the design work for the North Main trail extension project. (Augusta Liddic/The Daily Times)

AZTEC — Commissioners unanimously approved a less costly proposal for design work on the North Main trail extension project and a right-of-way agreement with landowners ensuring work will continue.

An earlier cost estimate for designs came in just over the $200,000 that was budgeted, drawing concerns from the commission.

Negotiations between the city and the Durango, Colo., design firm eventually shaved the price tag to a little more than $178,000.

And in lieu of payment for small parcels of private land along the corridor, commissioners promised the owners the city would complete utility and infrastructure work within five years.

"For the most part after talking with staff, we saved money by refining the scope of the floodplain study and (found) other savings," said Nancy Lauro, senior planner at Russell Planning and Engineering, the firm in charge. "We also went to our subcontractors and they scaled back their charges, When you first do a proposal you're not sure what needs to be involved. ... They wanted the full scope and we were able to keep to that. The study is still adequate for the project."

The firm also reduced staff hours and mark-up costs.

Lauro led a public meeting at the Aztec Senior-Community Center on Aug. 20 to hear opinions on the design work. Lauro and others from the firm also met with landowners prior to the meeting.

"We had different boards up of design features and people were able to give a thumbs-up, thumbs-down response," she said. "There was a lot of enthusiasm for having a plaza for weekend markets. There was also emphasis that the plaza and trail have a good relationship with the historical context of the Aztec Ruins."

Popular design elements include pedestrian-friendly shaded areas, safe crossing lanes for bicycles, a turn-around for vehicles and an area for entertainment.

"There was a big faction that (was) wanting to make sure the trail is (as) wildlife-friendly as possible," Lauro said. "So far we're just gauging ideas and interest."

Another public meeting is planned but has not been scheduled. Until then, the firm has set up two community-forum websites where people can comment.

Funding for the pedestrian bridge, a separate piece of the entire trails project, was temporarily held up after the Department of Transportation requested more documentation.

Ed Kotyk, projects manager for the city, confirmed the paperwork was successfully completed and submitted Monday.

"The DOT needed a form stating (that) the city's project would cause no conflicts with water lines, gas and electric lines," Kotyk said. "But we're talking a bridge over water, so everything's looking good."

James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and jfenton@daily-times.com. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.