Walkers making way to El Santuario de Chimayó this week
Crews with the New Mexico Department of Transportation have been working around the clock this week to prepare safe walking areas along the route to El Santuario de Chimayó in preparation for the Good Friday pilgrimage, which draws tens of thousands of faithful each year.
Maintenance crews have been setting up traffic-control devices and pedestrian signs, the agency said in a news release issued earlier this week.
One lane of U.S 84/285 will be closed to traffic between N.M. 599 and the south Tesuque exit, the news release said. Walkers will be guided to exit ramps between Santa Fe and Cuyamungue, where they can access a frontage road.
Temporary stop signs will be placed at interchanges to allow walkers to pass more safely, the release said.
Additional signs, electronic message boards and portable light fixtures will be placed along parts of N.M. 76 in Chimayó, N.M. 503 through Nambé and other roads to warn motorists about pedestrians.
Trash bins will be stationed along the route, the Transportation Department said, reminding walkers not to litter.
The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office also began preparing for walkers, launching increased patrols Thursday afternoon and distributing glow sticks in the evening for those making the trek at night. The agency planned to conduct DWI checkpoints along the route, a news release said, and some deputies will patrol the santuario area on foot.
New Mexico State Police, the Santa Fe Police Department, Pojoaque Tribal Police Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were assisting in the effort.
The Transportation Department and law enforcement agencies encouraged pilgrims to stay safe by walking on roadway shoulders and wearing bright, reflective clothing that’s appropriate for the weather. Those walking at night should bring flashlights.
Walkers should bring plenty of water, food, sunscreen, hats and a small first-aid kit. They also should alert family and friends about their planned routes and set up times to check in by phone.
The North Central Regional Transit District will be adding an additional Blue Bus along its Española-to-Chimayó route on Good Friday. And two buses for riders with disabilities will run on a continuous loop from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., departing from the Española Transit Center on Paseo de Oñate to the Benny J. Chavez Community Center on Juan Medina Road.
For more information about the Good Friday buses, call 866-206-0754 or visit RidetheBlueBus.com.