Underpass on the Way

A plan to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety at one of Santa Fe's most dangerous intersections is taking a leap forward with the news that a cash infusion is on the way.

State transportation officials told the city last week that they will make available about $3.8 million in federal pass-through funds to pay for most of the construction of an underpass below the intersection of Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive.

Designs for the long-envisioned project that will connect to the paved Acequia Trail are expected to be complete late this year or early next year, says Eric Martinez, director of the city's Roadway and Trails Engineering Division.

Money for those drawings came from a 2008 bond issue and is the only cash the city has set aside as available for the project to date. The news from the state means the city now has to come up with a little over $500,000 in matching money, which Martinez says can likely come from bond money already slated for reallocation.

Construction could begin as soon as the spring of 2015, but Martinez says it's hard to guess how long it will last because lane closures on the road will complicate the building schedule.

The busy intersection, rated fourth most hazardous in the metro region by a recent study, sees upward of 72,000 vehicles per day and more than 20 crossing by commuter trains. Bicyclists have long complained that it's dangerous to ride through because railroad tracks cross it at angle and can easily snag narrow tires.

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