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City Council overwhelmingly votes to reopen Mills Avenue in downtown El Paso

The City Council has overwhelmingly voted to reopen Mills Avenue in downtown El Paso.

The street has been closed for three years during the reconstruction of the San Jacinto Plaza.

City Council members voted on the issue during Tuesday’s meeting, but not everyone agreed Mills Avenue should be reopened.

Peter Svarzbein, the only representative to vote against reopening the street, argued for a walking promenade.

“In an area around the Plaza Theater, the Placita del los Gartos, people should take priority over cars,” Svarzbein said. “It doesn’t mean we should close off all the streets all the time, but It means we should be looking at alternatives.”

Scott White, president of the El Paso Bicycle Pedestrian Coalition, agreed.

“We passed Plan El Paso that said we were going to become the least car- dependent city in the southwest,” White said. “Here we have the first opportunity to take advantage of something like that by saying we don’t need to open up a road that has been closed for so long. We’ve survived without it being open.”

But Mayor Oscar Leeser said the street needs to be open for businesses during the day. Leeser called the council’s move a compromise.
The street will be shut down for large events.

Representative Cortney Niland said businesses along Mills Avenue are suffering. “Many of them have respectfully requested that we open this vehicular traffic,” she said. “There is a new yogurt shop, there is a brand-new restaurant right there, and they need that vehicular traffic.”

The date for the official reopening of Mills Avenue has not yet been released.

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