HIGHWAY 14 SAFETY

UPDATE: STAY TUNED FOR A TOWN HALL IN MARCH 2024 – DATE TBA

SMA Activity regarding the HWY 14 – Bonanza Creek Intersection – Fall 2023

On the evening of October 24, 2023, a young woman was killed in a traffic accident at the intersection of HWY 14 and Bonanza Creek. This was not the first fatal accident at or near this intersection, so community members and the San Marcos Association (SMA) Board members became determined to see what they could do to make this intersection safer.

SMA contacted NMDOT to request guidance as to how to obtain information about this intersection because HWY 14 is a state highway. We (the SMA) wish to see the DOT website provide readily available resources to educate the public as to incidents around any major intersection, and links to any safety studies completed on behalf of the citizenry.

Because the NMDOT website does not currently provide such information, one of our Board members, Laird Graeser, filed an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request. He received an Excel file detailing all accidents in the DOT database for the years 2019-2021 from a point on HWY 14 south of Madrid north to roughly Herrera Drive. In that time there were only four fatal accidents along that stretch – three involving pedestrians. None were at the HWY14-Bonanza Creek intersection. During those three years, DOT has recorded 13 accidents within a mile or so of that intersection, with five of them being designated as an “Injury Crash,” and one serious injury recorded. Two accidents were roll-overs; two were vehicle collisions; one was unspecified. All involved local drivers; alcohol or drugs were not involved in any of the injury accidents according to NMDOT. More recent data are unavailable as they are preliminary or unfinished.

But, SMA feels strongly that, despite these data, the intersection is hazardous and can be made safer. This is especially important as traffic volume along HWY 14 is increasing. And suggestions such as those below are things many in the community would like to discuss and to learn about. Therefore, SMA contacted County Commissioners Hank Hughes and Camilla Bustamante to ask if they would host a Town Hall devoted to the matter. One is currently being planned and is tentatively scheduled to take place after the New Year. This Town Hall would also include a representative of NMDOT. The San Marcos Association will inform the public when this event is scheduled.

SMA relayed to the County a brainstorming list of ideas to improve safety at and around the intersection. These ideas included:

  • Installing streetlights at the intersection
  • Installing a flashing yellow light
  • Installing a traffic signal with turning arrows
  • Installing a round-about
  • Making STOP signs larger or more visible
  • Increasing signage to alert drivers to the presence of an intersection
  • Using reflective paint and additional reflectors to increase the visibility of medians
  • Trimming vegetation around traffic signs
  • Installing speed bumps or rumble strips on the County roads to promote safer speeds at and around the intersection
  • Designating HWY 14 and the County roads into the intersection as a Safety Corridor

As a result of those conversations, here are a few things Commissioner Hughes has told SMA (via email on November 29, 2023) that the County is doing or considering to make this intersection safer.

1. Install bigger 48” by 48” stop signs on both sides of the intersection
2. DOT will cut the Chinese elms that are blocking visibility
3. The County is considering a corridor study to help plan for other improvements
4. Our roads team is also studying the ideas SMA and the community suggested to see what else could be done soon.

If you have any thoughts or information you can provide to us, please email SMA at . The SMA Board will discuss them as we review progress at our next meeting.

DOCUMENTS

Downloadable traffic accident data SMA received from NMDOT:

NM14 2012-2022 NMDOT Traffic Data: IPRA

NM14 2019-2021 NMDOT Traffic Data : IPRA 23-1041-02_DR2432_NM14