NMDOT prepares for pilgrimage

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Transportation > Commuters should be wary

By The Staff

The New Mexico Department of Transportation’s District Five maintenance and construction crews are preparing safe walking areas along various New Mexico highways for the annual Good Friday Pilgrimage to the El Santuario de Chimayó.
To further enhance the safety for this event, the department has asked law enforcement agencies to assist in the enforcement of a state law that prohibits encroachments, including concession or roadside stands, along state highway right of way.
“This event has been a tradition for many generations and the New Mexico Department of Transportation is working together with local, state, federal and tribal entities to provide a safe walking area for this year’s event,” said District Five Engineer Miguel Gabaldon. “The department is requesting that walkers and motorists exercise extreme caution so that everyone is able to safely participate in the annual pilgrimage.”
The NMDOT Cuyamungue and Alcalde maintenance crews have swept the typical routes to the Santuario, conducted shoulder erosion repairs and cleared debris and litter from the roadways to create safe walking areas.
Beginning today through Good Friday, crews will continue to work around the clock to provide the various accommodations as they have in previous pilgrimages:
• Today, maintenance crews will set up traffic control devices and pedestrian walking signs
• The right lane will be closed on northbound U.S. 84/285 between N.M. 599 and the South Tesuque interchange
• Walkers will be guided to the on/off ramps at each interchange between Santa Fe and Cuyamungue
• At the Cuyamungue interchange, orange barrels and signs will guide the walkers away from the mainline and onto the east frontage road
• Temporary stop signs will be placed at interchange locations to allow walkers to pass
• All cattle guards along the routes will be covered
• NMDOT will provide and maintain trash receptacles along all traditional walking paths.
Additional signs and electronic message boards will be placed along parts of N.M. 76 and N.M. 503 to alert motorists of the high volume of pedestrians on the roadway. Law enforcement and emergency responders will patrol all areas of the pilgrimage to enhance overall safety of the event.
Pedestrians are encouraged to wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective gear during early morning and evening hours. Local law enforcement will have a limited number of glow sticks for participants.
Portable lights will be placed in the area of the Pojoaque Wellness Center as well as the intersections of N.M. 503 and C.R. 84 and NM 503 and C.R. 98 to provide lighting for those walking at night.
NMDOT is asking law enforcement agencies to stop all concession and roadside stands along the annual Good Friday pilgrimage route to the El Santuario de Chimayo.
The state agency said Tuesday to move to close concession stands is a safety measure aimed at protecting crowded walking areas.
Some pilgrims will make the 90-mile, three-day walk from Albuquerque to the shrine that houses “el pocito,” a small pit of holy adobe-colored soil that some believe possesses curing powers.
Chimayó is a National Historic Landmark, and some 200,000 people are estimated to visit each year, with the bulk occurring during Holy Week.