I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Keep Santa Fe from becoming another Los Angeles
The New Mexico Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration are studying the corridor of the I-25 between Old Pecos Trail and NM-599 to determine what improvements should be made to the section of the interstate that runs just south of Santa Fe.
According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the state has spent almost $373,000 so far on its study. They really could have saved their (or, more properly, our) money, because I’d have happily told them for free.
The single most important improvement the study recommends is adding an interchange at Richards Avenue, where there is plenty of vacant land to put one. Really, did it take more than a third of a million dollars to figure that out? I’d lived in Santa Fe only a couple of months before I started asking, “Why, oh, why isn’t there an exit here?” whenever I drove past Richards on the I-25, got off at Cerrillos, then doubled back to get to the area around Richards.
Other times, I’d exit at St. Francis and then travel to Rodeo Road, which was a shorter driving distance, but took longer because of all the improvements being done on Rodeo at that time.
The road work on Rodeo is now finished, but it’s still a one lane street (albeit with left hand turn lanes that now eliminate some of the congestion) and whenever I get stuck behind a heavily laden and slow-moving construction vehicle on Rodeo, I start having that old Richards Avenue exit fantasy again.
Now, it looks like my fantasy may become reality at last. At least I hope it will, and that the state didn’t spend their (our) money on that study in vain.
I hope that the sort of NIMBYism that foils so many public works projects doesn’t rear its ugly, selfish head this time, because that interchange is really a necessity, with a large new housing development (Rancho Viejo) and a number of new businesses located at the south end of Richards.
Santa Fe Community College and two large private schools (Santo Niño Regional Catholic School and Mission Viejo Christian Academy) are also there, and every day parents have to clog up Rodeo Road or Governor Miles getting their kids to school, or pass Richards on the interstate and double back from the Cerrillos exit, using more gasoline than would be necessary if there was an exit at Richards.
The other proposed improvements to the I-25 corridor (they are listed in the New Mexican’s story) all pale beside the Richards interchange. Some of them, such as connecting several streets that do not currently meet, are good ideas. Others, such as improving existing entrance and exit ramps, do not really seem necessary, especially at a time of severe budget constraints.
But, you may be thinking, if there are budget constraints, why spend money on any improvements at all?
Since I am originally from Los Angeles, I know only too well that such fiscally conservative inaction would be penny wise but pound foolish.
Los Angeles, you see, was a lovely place when I was a girl. We spent a fair bit of time in the car, but that’s because it’s a pretty spread-out city. Still, in my youth, when the motor was running, the wheels were usually in motion. When we were in the car and the wheels were stationary for longer than a red light, it was usually because the engine was turned off because we were at a drive-in or maybe sitting in the car at the bluffs overlooking the ocean watching the sunset.
What we weren’t doing was sitting in our cars for hours on end on the freeway, engines running, wheels turning with agonizing slowness or stopping altogether as our cars crept slowly, slowly, slowly toward our destination. Oh, occasionally there was a traffic jam. And at rush hour traffic moved more slowly than usual. But in Los Angeles today, rush hour lasts half the day, and what we used to call a traffic jam is now just a routine part of life.
It was in part to escape the monotony of spending so much time in my car that I left Los Angeles. The city had become so overcrowded so quickly that the infrastructure had not kept pace with the changing demographics, and as a result when I wasn’t sitting in traffic, I was often driving around looking for that most elusive L.A. commodity: a parking space.
Insufficient parking, insufficiently wide streets, and insufficient numbers of freeway exits all make for traffic problems, and traffic problems negatively impact the quality of life in a city. At present, the quality of life in Santa Fe is exceptionally good, especially when compared with overcrowded, traffic-clogged and parking-deprived cities like Los Angeles.
Let’s keep it that way.