Back a Phase

City officials are reconsidering a traditional intersection to connect two sections of Richards Avenue on the Southside

The City of Santa Fe on Monday night announced a pause in plans for an intersection that would connect Richards Avenue from the south side of Arroyo de los Chamisos to the north side.

The plan has been in the works since 2020 and, earlier this year, the city’s Public Works Department seemed settled on a “split T” intersection at Richards and Camino Del Prado—having whittled the plan down from four proposals, including an alternative in which there would be no construction at all, to just one. But after a meeting in May, according to the city’s website, the Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization requested the project move forward with a roundabout, connecting both sections of Richards with Camino del Prado and the current east-west section of Richards that would likely be renamed. The initial plan is still in play, but instead of moving on to an environmental study and preliminary design stage with one option, project officials on Monday heard comments about the possibility of a roundabout.

Consultants and city officials repeatedly stressed during Monday’s presentation that the mock-ups of both the possibilities were “conceptual” and were far from a final draft. But that didn’t quell nearby residents’ anxieties.

Lucy River, who previously spoke to SFR about concerns she might lose part of her property at the intersection of Siringo and Richards to the new construction, again shared her frustration on Monday. She objects to the “project as a whole,” but conceded the roundabout option might cut down on speeding drivers. She acknowledged that the project is still in the early stages, but nonetheless was skeptical.

“It feels a little bit like we’re frogs being boiled by degrees to death,” River said.

Meeting participants raised various questions and concerns, not just about the two design options, but also about how either would handle the potential of increased housing nearby or why speed humps are not planned for the road. The project consultants either acknowledged speakers’ comments or went back to the refrain that the project is still in its very early stages.

One resident asked Denise Aten, with the engineering firm Bohannan Huston, which is consulting on the project, about a street view rendering of the project. Aten’s answer highlighted how far the project still has to go.

“I think the answer is, we’re just not there yet,” Aten said.

It’s unclear exactly when a final design will be decided on, but the next steps are an environmental study and a preliminary design.

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