Architect designs roundabout to solve Santa Fe intersection problems

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SANTA FE (KRQE) – It is one of the busiest and craziest intersections in New Mexico, but an architect has an idea that’s raising eyebrows and could make the intersection one of the most memorable.

If you have ever been to Santa Fe, you’ve almost certainly driven through the intersection of Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive. The intersection is hard miss, linking two of the city’s main drags with the Rail Runner train and a couple of bike and pedestrian pathways.

It is also busy and often times congested. However, a Santa Fe architect’s new idea would separate all of those different types of traffic above and below the surface.

Almost everyone has the same opinion about St. Francis Drive and Cerillios Road, whether their driving, walking or riding a bike through it.

“Well it’s a busy one, it’s a really busy intersection,” said a female driver News 13 interviewed on Wednesday.

“It needs some upgrades, that’s for sure,” said Kenneth Carter, who walks through the intersection almost daily.

“Yeah this is a congested area right here,” said Richard, a Santa Fe bicyclist.

Once you add in the Rail Runner train that rolls right through the middle of the it, city engineers agree that St. Francis and Cerrillos isn’t simple.

“Probably one of the most complicated intersections in the city, maybe in the state,” said John Romero, Director of Traffic Engineering for the city of Santa Fe.

So is it time for a big change? Santa Fe architect, Richard Martinez, thinks so.

“I wanted to illustrate that idea,” said Martinez, owner of a local architecture firm called “Martinez Architecture Studio.”

Over the last year in his spare time and for no pay, Martinez has been working on an idea for a major change at the intersection.

Martinez recently unveiled his idea for how to revamp St. Francis and Cerrillos through a full-blown rendering of a roundabout with elevated pathways.

“For many people. This is the only part of Santa Fe that they see!” said Martinez.

Martinez’s concept would put the roads below what’s surface level today. All of the traffic would travel without any stop lights through a dedicated double lane roundabout.

As for the pedestrians and bicyclists, they would walk on elevated walkways about the road. Meanwhile, the Rail Runner would travel in its own elevated pathway.

Martinez says he envisions something that doesn’t just solve a traffic problem, but also creates an intersection that “celebrates” Santa Fe.

“It has nothing to do with what is actually planned, but just to get the conversation going,” said Martinez.

For now, it’s just an idea. In hopes of eliminating one of the places where bicycles cross traffic, the city is planning on putting an underpass bike path near the intersection soon.

Meanwhile, the city says that state transportation workers are going to begin analyzing the future of the intersection soon.

The rendering has people talking though, about what *could* be. News 13 even asked the city what they thought about it on Wednesday.

“It was a very creative design, I was provided with a rendering and he did a really good job on it,” said Romero.

As for the planned bike path underpass, the city is hoping to start work on that project by the end of the year. Construction of that project will take about six to nine months.

The three renderings that Martinez drew up are on display in the Historic Santa Fe Foundation’s art gallery right now. They’ll be up for about the next two weeks.

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