My Turn

Opinion: Suggestions for solving Taos' traffic woes

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First of all, I want to mention the runway(at the Taos Regional Airport) that was completed after many years of controversy. This was a big project and took many meetings and individuals to make it happen. Congratulations to all those involved.

Many years ago, when flying gliders in the Phoenix area, a couple of times it would have been nice to have a cross-field runway. It is downright dangerous to land on a runway when the prevailing winds are coming across the field. And so I am thankful for this 8,000-foot runway even though I don't fly anymore. It will make aviation here much safer as well as enabling aircraft in trouble to make safe landings.

On the same note, the next big challenge for Taos--a long-standing challenge--is solving our systemic traffic problems.

It is nice to see the potholes filled and some of our roads completely redone. But this doesn't solve the real problem: many more vehicles will be traveling through the streets. I think it important to look at the big picture and not be satisfied with temporary fixes.

Some options that will greatly alleviate traffic congestion are listed below:

Let's say for arguments sake we get rid of three traffic lights: the light next to the Plaza at Kit Carson Road, the light at Quesnel and Paseo, and the light at the old Scheid motor crossing on Siler Road. Instead, there would be a traffic circle (round-about) near that crossing. From there two lanes of traffic would enter a tunnel. Many towns and cities use tunnels to solve their traffic problems. The tunnel entrance would be before McDonald's with a one-way side road passing the new Tap Room and connecting to Quesnel.

The two lanes in the tunnel would go underneath the Couse pasture, preserving it and Ed Sandoval's studios and horse operation. The exit would be at the now free parking lot. This could be converted to a parking garage with two tiers underground. One of the lanes would go to Angel Fire with an offshoot to the three-tier garage. The other would swing around and go north on Kit Carson Road. So then we have two lanes going the same direction with a nice wide radius leading to the old Paseo (del Pueblo) Norte. The light at the Taos Community Auditorium would remain.

Ed Sandoval would only be able to access his studio from the Plaza. Tourists would park their cars at the Couse parking garage and walk to the Plaza without waiting for that frustrating light.

Now let's talk about southbound traffic. One lane would come down Paseo to the light at the TCA and would make a right turn and, as now, drivers would take a left at the intersection of Civic Center Drive and Camino de la Placita.

The second lane going south on Paseo would make a right on Camino de la Placita, which might have to be widened to three lanes. This traffic would then eventually end up at the beautiful traffic circle mentioned before. It would be nice if in the middle it had an impressive Ted Egri sculpture like the one in front of the (Taos County) Courthouse.

There you have it, just an idea.

RJ Pfammatter was a mechanical engineer for 25 years working in Florida, Phoenix and Connecticut and 25 years as an artist in Taos.

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Tom Myers

Traffic and road upgrades in Taos:

US 64 & NM 68 Taos Congestion Relief Project Study:

Scope: The New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) propose to improve US 64 & NM 68 in Taos. The Taos Congestion Relief project study proposes to reduce traffic congestion in and around the Town of Taos, improve the safety of existing facilities and consider opportunities to improve the east-west road network, improve emergency access routes and alternative routes.

Estimated Project Cost: TBD

Anticipated Start Date: TBD

Project Sponsor:

NMDOT

Stephen Lopez, PE, Technical Support Engineer

Voice: 505-995-7700 Email: stephen.lopez@state.nm.us

Project Documents:

Taos Congestion Relief Study Phase 1B Final Report (12.6 MB PDF)

Taos Congestion Relieve Study Appendices (6.93 MB PDF)

Go here to download .pdf's:

http://www.dot.state.nm.us/content/nmdot/en/ProjectsD5.html#US64_NM68

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