SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Many drivers going to and from Santa Fe are now seeing a new kind of interchange that seems to put them on the wrong side of the road.
New Mexico Department of Transportation recently completed what’s known as a diverging diamond interchange at Cerrillos Road and I-25, a nearly $20 million project that took a little more than a year to build. It’s the first of its kind in New Mexico and one of approximately two dozen around the country.
For drivers exiting Northbound I-25 heading into Santa Fe on Cerrillos Road, the interchange sends them under the bridge on the left side of the road before stopping at a traffic light. Drivers then continue to head into town on the right side of the road. Traffic heading to Northbound I-25 from Santa Fe on Cerrillos also gets sent to the left side of the road under the freeway before getting onto a ramp.
“It’s a little confusing at first because you’re driving on the wrong side of the road,” said Nick Leonard, who lives nearby. “I was worried I was going the wrong way.”
“It does look a little complicated from what I did see,” said Roberto Ronquillo, who’s driven through the interchange.
The diamond name comes from the two points where Cerrillos Road crosses itself, once to the south of I-25 and in another spot north of that freeway. NMDOT says the design saved millions in project costs now and could save more in the future if there’s a need to expand the roads to accommodate traffic.
“It allowed us to do something different and something we could actually afford,” said NMDOT secretary Tom Church. “It moves traffic more efficiently it gets everybody going in the right direction without the big curves or cloverleaf type interchange exits.”
Many drivers KRQE News 13 spoke to say they didn’t have issues with getting through the interchange, they’re just worried others will and that drivers could get confused and drive the wrong way. NMDOT isn’t worried at this point.
“They’re very effective and once people get used to them, they seem to like them a lot,” said Church. “Signs are up and marked clearly but we need people to pay attention.”