City of Albuquerque to Go Tactical Urbanist at Santa Clara/Columbia

What is to be done regarding the curious intersection of Columbia and Santa Clara SE?

santa clara and columbia

The latest attempt, of several over the years, to find an agreeable remedy for speeding  traffic and various aspects of bad driving at the infamous intersection will have a decided “tactical urbanism” twinge.  Culminating a long process of input and suggestions by residents of the Victory Hills Neighborhood Association, City of Albuquerque’s Traffic Engineer Tim Brown and staff will try a number of low-cost, temporary alterations at Santa Clara/Columbia in an attempt to find a best solution.

In other words, “tactical urbanism.” Brown & Co. will make several tweaks, possibly including the suggested, by some, move of jersey barriers from the east side of Columbia to the west:

col jersey
Looking north on Columbia, we see the endearingly temporary barriers that have been up for years now. One possible tactical urbanism tweak would be to simply move them to the west side of the intersection, preventing drivers from taking Santa Clara off Columbia to get to Yale Blvd.

The combination of traffic circle, raised medians, and quaintly temporary jersey barriers at this lightly traveled intersection offer Mr. Brown & Co. many, many things to play with.  We on the Better Burque Tactical Urbanism Team (BBTUT) are envious. Yet “Play” might not be the right word. You might not get the impression simply by looking at it, but this intersection has been ground zero for vehement neighborhood arguing and teeth gnashing for years. Tweaking this burr in the neighborhood saddle is sure to result in more soreness, whether the final decision is made to stick what we see above, or go in some new direction.

Still, the idea of using officially-sanctioned tactical urbanism to effect swift, low-cost change in roadway design offers a great deal of potential. Thus the Santa Clara/Columbia work is important for the entire city, not just Victory Hills. With this importance in mind, BB does make one very small suggestion: Whatever treatment is determined “final,” can we get some real walking/cycling notches between any diverters or barriers placed? Gingerly walking/riding between the quaintly temporary jersey barriers, almost always filled with debris, glass, and worse, isn’t fun.


One thought on “City of Albuquerque to Go Tactical Urbanist at Santa Clara/Columbia

  1. A re-check of the City’s online bicycle map shows that both Columbia and Santa Clara are still designated as bicycle routes through this intersection, yet it is not possible to access Santa Clara eastbound by bike, or the rest of the intersection westbound from Santa Clara by bike, without dismounting, hopping a curb, or doing something else inconsistent with a bike route. I pointed this out to the City’s then bicycle coordinator in late 2012/early 2013, but he left the position shortly thereafter. During this period I discovered and communicated quite a number of other intersections where various “fixes” like the ones shown at this intersection make it difficult, unsafe, or ambiguous to follow a designated bike route on a bicycle.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s