A years-old plan to build a pedestrian and bicycle underpass beneath St. Michael’s Drive along the Rail Trail moved closer to reality Wednesday.

Mayor Alan Webber and the City Council approved a nearly $285,000 funding agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation to design the underground crossing, which is meant to “enhance safety and overall operations.” Of the total design cost, the city is contributing about $41,500.

City Councilor Signe Lindell cast the lone dissenting vote, saying she is “pretty adverse to these tunnels” and that she would be more in favor of a bridge.

“I think they attract people living in them. I think they attract nighttime naughty behavior,” she said. “A tunnel is not my preferred way of solving this safety issue.”

Construction of the tunnel is estimated at $4.7 million, which is expected to come from state and federal funding sources.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

Show what you're thinking about this story

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.
2
0
1
0
2

(6) comments

William Craig

Yes, a safer trail crossing is definitely needed. Remember that in 2014 a bicyclist was killed by a train while he was maneuvering from the trail to the nearby “safe” intersection at Calle Lorca. The article (+ 41 comments) is at:

santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/bicyclist-dead-after-being-struck-by-rail-runner/article_1ff58187-c24f-59df-a536-5ab02fc78b53.html

Also, this stretch of Saint Michaels Drive will become a main access route for the nearby midtown redevelopment project, so a well-designed footbridge could create a dramatic gateway.

Khal Spencer

As Dan said, the current crossing is a disaster waiting to happen. Six lanes of relatively high speed traffic. I use that crossing quite a bit and one has to dash halfway across, hide out at the median refuge, and then dash the rest of the way.

Occasionally a nice motorist might stop to let a cyclist cross. In one instance, the lady stopped on the tracks themselves and I saw the lights of the Railrunner approaching in the distance so I frantically waived her through before the gates came down.

As a cyclist, I prefer a tunnel to a bridge since a bridge would ice over in the winter and given ADA compliance law, would have to have a long runup so would likely not be cheap. The ice is a problem usually not faced in Albuquerque.

I've seen occasional folks hanging out in the St. Francis tunnel but not aware that it is a major issue. Perhaps as Dan said, a tunnel could be designed to make it a lousy place to pitch a camp. Or, get SFPD back up to full strength so we can have the bike cops again (or for that matter, a citizen multiuse path patrol like the Guardian Angels did when I lived in Honolulu; a good friend of mine who was a law school professor was one of the volunteers).

Homelessness is an issue we have to deal with as well as making our multiuse trails safer for intended users. It can't be either/or.

At any rate, we need to fix that crossing.

Chris Mechels

Better yet, kill the Rail Runner!! Why are we still bankrolling that loser?

William Craig

$285,000 just for a design? An entire prefab footbridge could be fully installed for less than that.

Yes, Signe, we should all be averse to these tunnels. We already have ½-dozen trail tunnels around Santa Fe that are usually dark, dirty, dangerous places filled with broken glass, mud, ice, loose gravel, tumbleweeds and graffiti.

By contrast, look at the several nice arching wooden footbridges in Albuquerque spanning Tramway Blvd NE. (Using Google Earth, search for McLeod Family YMCA, Foothills Fellowship or Jesus First.)

Dan Frazier

As a bicyclist, I think this is great news! For those using the trail, the current St. Michaels crossing is a disaster waiting to happen. There are six busy lanes of traffic, with no lights to slow or stop drivers, no walk lights for pedestrians, no pavement markings to indicate a protected crossing. It is just madness! As Lindell's objections, how about some police patrols in the tunnels? How about some cameras? How about some lights? A tunnel could also be designed with a metal grate type roof. This would allow exhaust fumes from the trains out and let rain in. A tunnel that lets rain in is much less likely to be used as an encampment. As a bicyclist familiar with topography of that area, a tunnel would seem to make much more sense compared to a bridge. I don't want to have to pedal to an even higher altitude just to cross St. Michaels.

Orlando Baca

Sounds like walk lights and barriers for bicyclists would be effective, safe, and millions cheaper.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.