Crossing the Arroyo

Public meeting on Richards extension welcomes comments on four alternatives, including a no-build option

Santa Fe residents on Thursday will get a second crack at weighing in on four proposed options around connected the two sides of Richards Avenue, including one in which it wouldn’t happen.

Richards dead-ends in the Bellamah neighborhood, north of Arroyo de los Chamisos and at Fire Station 7 south of the arroyo. The proposed crossing has faced historical opposition, which is likely to continue from neighborhood residents at the 6 pm virtual meeting.

When Lucy River purchased her home, which lies at the intersection of Siringo Road and Richards Avenue, the previous owner told her that the City of Santa Fe might be coming for her property—or at least the part the city owns.

If one of the alternatives for the Arroyo de los Chamisos crossing is approved, River might have to move her fence back several feet to make way for an access road, she tells SFR.

A near constant stream of traffic turning between Siringo and Richards provided a noisy background to SFR’s conversation with River on Monday outside her home.

She says the drivers already take the turn faster than the designated 25 mph speed limit. Extending Richards, which would connect Rodeo Road to Cerrillos Road, would increase traffic in her neighborhood.

River says she’s concerned for her 12-year-old daughter’s safety, which already makes her anxious.

“Obviously losing my yard and being on a thoroughfare would suck,” River says, though she’s largely resigned to the potential reality that the crossing will be constructed. The additional noise is a contributing factor to her disagreement with the plan, she says.

The emergency access road, constructed in 2007, connects Fire Station 7 near the Genoveva Chavez Community Center to Richards Avenue and Cerrillos Road, passing right next to River’s property. The passage reduces emergency response time by five minutes, according to former Fire Chief Eric Litzenberg, but gates prevent access from vehicles that aren’t responding to calls for help.

City officials want to connect the two major arteries to improve “regional connectivity and reduce congestion and overall impacts on local roads,” according to an initial presentation outlining the proposed extension.

As it stands, there are other options for the Arroyo de los Chamisos crossing that would leave River’s property unaffected, meaning her street would be spared more traffic.

The route extending Richards across the Arroyo de los Chamisos is one of the three alternatives proposed to the public two years ago. An update provided to the City Council in January 2021 recommended this alternative over the others “because it would provide the most direct connection between Rodeo Road and Cerrillos Road” and minimally impact existing infrastructure.

Another alternative, slightly west, would include a connection between two sections of Camino de los Arroyos, which are currently separate, with Kachina Ridge Drive and Richards Avenue. The third alternative, furthest east, would extend Calle Princesa Juana to Richards Avenue where the current emergency roadway exists. A fourth alternative would mean no changes to the emergency road.

The meeting marks the beginning of phase B, a detailed evaluation of the alternatives. Those who want to attend the meeting and contribute public input can register here to receive a link to the event.

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