‘Dangerous’ Des Montes intersection causes frustration

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Floyd Archuleta grew up tending his family's agricultural fields in Des Montes near what he considers one of the most dangerous intersections in the area. And Archuleta, now in his 60s, has seen bad car wrecks there for just as long.

That's why he shook his head in frustration when he heard there had been yet another wreck at the intersection in recent weeks.

Where Hondo-Seco Road and State Road 230 come together is a busy place. Bicyclists share the asphalt with construction crews, farm trucks and tractors, parents taking their kids to two nearby elementary schools and tourists on their way to Taos Ski Valley through Arroyo Seco.

Stop signs are posted on either side of Hondo-Seco Road. But motorists going either direction on the highway are usually speeding, compounding the riskiness of blind spots on that state-controlled road, Archuleta told The Taos News Monday (June 12).

The Lower Des Montes Neighborhood Association, which Archuleta heads, worked for several years through community meetings, one-on-one conversations and even petitions to get local and state governments to improve safety in the area, Archuleta said.

Taos County Commissioner Tom Blankenhorn told The Taos News Wednesday (June 14) the county has made several requests for more safety measures.

Archuleta said it looked as if efforts had paid off when the New Mexico Department of Transportation committed to improving safety by installing a flashing electronic speed limit sign. "We dropped it when they said, ‘We'll do it,'" he said.

That was more than a year ago.

"The Department [of Transportation] is not aware of a request from the neighborhood association [for safety measures] or of any commitment to install more equipment," Emilee Cantrell, a spokesperson for the department, told The Taos News via email.

There were no fatal car wrecks at that intersection from 2010 to 2015, according to data from the department. Auto accidents caused two injuries and six instances of property damage in that same time frame, as reported to the department.

But Archuleta thinks collisions are underreported. "Ask anybody around here and somebody knows somebody who's had a wreck right there. This is still a very dangerous intersection," Archuleta said.

Blankenhorn said the county would again make a formal request to the department for the relatively low-cost warning lights. The department spokesperson, meanwhile, said the regional traffic engineer would reach out to the county government to discuss "any safety improvements" that could be implemented at the intersection.

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