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SF committee OKs St. Francis underpass with ‘light sculpture’


SANTA FE — A bicycle/pedestrian crossing under St. Francis Drive just north Cerrillos Road may include an “artistic light sculpture” and could be done by next spring without a major disruption to traffic at one of the city’s busiest intersections.

The City Council’s Public Works Committee on Monday approved bids for construction and construction management services for the $5 million underpass connecting the Acequia Trail to the Railyard Park.


An underpass with a `light sculpture’ is planned beneath St. Francis Drive just north of Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. (Courtesy of the city of Santa Fe)

It is now scheduled to go before the Finance Committee on Monday and could come before the full City Council May 25.

According to city documents, the total length of the project is 840 linear feet of which 149 feet is the underpass structure. An artist’s rendering of the inside of the tunnel shows ribs of light bending around gold and blue interior walls, as well as what appear to be “lightcicles” hanging down from a skylight running the width of the tunnel.

Leroy Pacheco, a Public Works department supervisor who presented the item to the committee, said prior to the meeting that the city’s Arts Commission is chipping in $150,000 for the light sculpture. He said the design also includes features to allow for water to be harvested. Most of the project, about $3.7 million, is being paid through federal funds.

The Public Works Committee approved awarding a bid to Vital Consulting for $4.3 million to construct the underpass. That amount includes the cost of the light sculpture and “hardscape landscaping,” which Pacheco says is “aesthetic elements that aren’t plants,” such as a ramada. Louis Berger Group, Inc. won the $492,000 contract to manage the project.

If everything stays on schedule and the City Council approves the project later this month, Pacheco said construction could start in July or August and it would take six to eight months to complete.

During that time, Pacheco said much of the work will take place at night, so there should be minimal disruption to traffic on St. Francis — a multi-lane U.S. highway — while construction is going on.

Construction of the underpass will require the reconstruction of about 80 feet of St. Francis Drive, including replacement of raised medians, curb and gutter work, and sidewalks.

Pacheco said the St. Francis Drive underpass is important for the city. “That’s probably the most traveled intersection in the city. In a way, it’s a gateway to the city,” he said.