The way I see it, our State, with help of City and County, owe us folks down here in the Southwest Mesa/South Valley four walk/bike bridges over Coors Blvd. (NM-45; it’s a State road).
Why, you ask?
Well, I got to thinking this morning after reading this interesting story out of Santa Fe. Seems the City is considering taking over maintenance of several State roads that go through The City Different. Some at the City feel that doing so would make these roads fit local priorities better than does a State agency (NMDOT):
Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth said the project would greatly ease the city’s conversion of streetlights to LED lights, a topic of great public interest in Santa Fe.
“It will allow us to do a lighting design plan that meets our community’s needs, instead of being bound by the state requirements,” the councilor said.
And one cup of coffee thinking led to another (both cup and thinking), and it clicked that within our fair city we have two State roads going along the current edge of opposite quadrants of town (Northeast and Southwest), one with four walk/bike bridges over the State road (Tramway NM-556) and one with zero walk/bike bridges (Coors/NM-45).
What’s up with that?
I’m just really starting thinking about the answer(s) to that question, but have already determined it’s good for at least a few dissertations in university departments scattered throughout the social sciences. And yeah, one of those dissertations is probably gonna have the word “racism” somewhere in the title (either before or after the grammatical colon).
Less esoterically, one probable explanation is that the NE quadrant along/around Tramway Blvd. developed much differently than has the Southwest Mesa and South Valley along/around Coors Blvd. And that’s true on a number of levels, including some levels that get us back to issues of equity, either financial or racial or both.
And, in trying to avoid those socio-political causal factors (they are uncomfortable, aren’t they?), one is tempted to put it all down to the fact that when those walk/bike bridges were put up on Tramway, there were houses all over the place on both sides of that stroad. Well, going back to 1996 through the time machine that is the handy/dandy City Historical Aerial Viewer Map, here’s what it looked like at Tramway and Comanche.
Yeah, it’s kinda blurry, but that’s the walk/bike bridge which still crosses Tramway to this day just south of Comanche. And that walk/bike bridge does connect to some houses east of Tramway, but there’s pretty much nothing west of it back in 1996, not even an arroyo with a multi-use path.
It’s just there, waiting for things to grow around it.
Meanwhile, pretty much ever since 1996, the Coors Blvd corridor along the South Valley/Southwest Mesa has exploded with sub-divisions and other development in that start/stop/start manner of such things, and now looks like this:
Certainly more development here at Coors and Rio Bravo (Hey, that’s another State road, NM-500!) than back in 1996 at Tramway and Comanche…and no walk/bridge in sight. Nor in the planning.
And while it’s easy, and accurate, to point out that the folks in these residences west of Coors at Rio Bravo aren’t quite as wealthy, or as White, as in the Tramway/Comanche subdivision in the 1996 photo above, we who live down here are willing to hold off further judgment on that…
As long as work starts today on at least four walk/bike bridges over Coors in the SW quadrant of town. Perhaps first near Coors and Rio Bravo.
If that seems excessive (i.e., expensive), keep in mind that it’s no coincidence that the SW Coors corridor has some of the highest walking/cycling crash/death rates in the entire area, most certainly including the far more walk/bike-friendly Tramway/NM-556 in the NE quadrant.
So, State of New Mexico: We want our
two hundred dollars four walk/bike bridges!
You owe us.
P.S.: You might recall that those four walk/bike bridges across Tramway are getting rehabbed. So those NE Quadrant folks have their bridges in place long enough to get rehabbed, AND GET THEM REHABBED, before we in the SW get any bridges. As a good friend often says…”that’s just how they do.”