Thursday, June 21, 2012

Arroyo Chamisos Bike Trail Underpass Nears Completion

Under construction since last August, the long awaited St. Francis Dr. bike trail underpass is just about finished. The new underpass connects the Arroyo Chamisos Trail to the city's eastside and the newly built stretch of city trail that routes to the hospital - the Gail Ryba Trail. I pass this way just about everyday and have been snapping semi-regular photos of the progress. So here they are, lined up in sequence.

Time lapse - construction of an underpass:

Arroyo chamisos trail underpass
The Arroyo Chamisos Underpass

First half complete, second half dug out

Steelworker guys photo-bombing my shot at 7am

The art relief panels - Foam molds are set in place before the concrete pour for the wall.

As of Wed. 6/20, almost there. I think they're waiting for the official opening/dedication before removing the fencing. The graffiti taggers are as anxious to use the tunnel as the bicyclists and runners.

My one complaint with the tunnel work had been the lack of obvious drainage. No drains, no grates, nothing. The tunnel will fill with water (or ice) at the first rain or snow! It will be unusable several months of the year! Aaah, but just yesterday I recognized the solution. The entire tunnel is built as drainage - the floor of the tunnel itself drops at a barely perceptible slope allowing water collecting on the east trail surfaces to flow through and out at the west entrance. That there is some mastery in engineering. Bravo sirs, bravo.

Besides bypassing the mess of traffic on St. Francis, the impetus for the trail was to add a transportation connection from the Rail Runner train stop at Zia and St. Francis to the hospital, the city's largest employer apparently. The new underpass is the first of its kind in Santa Fe. A culvert passing under Rodeo Rd was retro-fitted two years ago to extend the Arroyo Chamisos Trail west toward Cerrillos. A similar culvert retro-fit is planned for the Santa Fe River Trail at St. Francis and Alameda, and another culvert underpass exists out in Santa Fe County at NM 599 and Caja del Rio Rd, providing access to the soccer fields out that way.

I should note that Albuquerque's spectacular new pedestrian and bike bridge spanning the Rio Grande along Interstate-40 is also named in honor of Gail Ryba. Gail was almost single-handedly responsible for setting up New Mexico municipal bikeways and the relevant government committees and budgeting processes in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. A not-so-small debt of gratitude due to Ms. Ryba.

Gail Ryba Bridge
Gail Ryba Bike & Pedestrian Bridge - Albuquerque, NM, 2010
Related Links
 - Santa Fe Area Trails and Maps

View Gail Ryba Trail - Santa Fe, NM in a larger map


  1. Gail made quite an impact on this little planet of ours and on top of that she was a darn good person. I remember talking to her once about that very same bridge now named in her honor....although I'd rather she be there for opening. Thanks for the news and information...I'll pass it onto my wife who also knew Gail.

  2. An individual that definitely made an impact, my hat is off to her. Pretty cool that you can say you've met her once. I believe the Albuquerque bridge was completed and dedicated in the Fall of 2010, only a few months after her passing.

  3. I had the opportunity to work on this project up until it went to final design (I departed the design firm when I relocated from New Mexico). I'm pleased to see it turned out so well! The drainage issue you mentioned was a fun part of the project. Why use drains and pipes if you don't need to? :)

    Many props to Leroy Pacheco from the City who managed this project on the city's end. He has a real vision for seeing art incorporated into Santa Fe's infrastructure and I'm thrilled to see how that turned out on this project.

    Thank you for the images! It's exciting to see the process and the finished project. I can't wait to get back to Santa Fe to visit and bike around the new trails.

  4. Great background on the project, and I appreciate you singling out some of the individuals responsible for managing and completing the project. From Gail Ryba's original vision, to Leroy Pacheco and his team's execution, the city now has a terrific bike/pedestrian link on the south side of town.

    I'll note that at least one bike/pedestrian/horse culvert under NM 599 near Camino de los Montoyas is now open and in operation. The culvert was put in place during construction of the highway but little or no access was built out until this September in preparation for hosting the IMBA World Summit There's another culvert by-way near NM 599 and Caja del Rio which will connect the Santa Fe River Trail to the Caja. That little section of the SF River Trail has been completed by the county, but the culvert is currently filled with tumbleweeds and fenced off.

    There is yet another pre-built culvert by-way sitting under Cerrillos Rd way out by the new Super WalMart. It is buried at present, awaiting more development in the area and an eventual extension of the Arroyo Chamisos Trail that will connect under and through to the Las Soleras business park.

    Send along an email if you'd like company on your future tour of the new trails. I'm always up for a quick outing and coffee/beer stop to talk about trails.



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