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Santa Clara Pueblo


Santa Clara Pueblo is the only self-governance tribe in New Mexico and have compacted the roads program in their self-governance agreement. Santa Clara is the largest of the 8 Northern Pueblos in population and reservation size.

Transportation System

Transportation on the Santa Clara reservation consists of BIA roads as well as state highways. State highway 30 runs through the reservation and serves commuter traffic to and from the Los Alamos lab facility. State Highway 30 has an ADT of 13,000. There is a park and ride lot that the state leases from the Pueblo. Bus service runs from the park-and-ride lot to Los Alamos.

The reservation also includes part of the city of Espanola. The tribe operates the only casino within a municipal boundary in New Mexico.

State Highway 399 runs through the reservation as well as State Highways 84 and 285.

photo of state hightway 399
State Highway 399

The remaining system consists of local roads and BIA roads to homes and recreation areas. The tribe maintains about 100 miles of roads. Approximately 75 percent are dirt roads.

photo of a dirt road
Dirt Road - Not on IRR Inventory

photo of BIA road 615
BIA Road 615

There are paved streets in most housing areas. In a least one area with dirt roads, plans are for the road to be paved.

photo of a two lane road

photo of a two lane road
BIA Roads in Housing Areas

photo of a dirt road
Residential Dirt Road - Proposed to be paved

Roads to recreational areas and roads for forest management projects are mostly dirt roads. Road 601 is 13 miles of paved road. The tribe carries out forest management as part of their compact with BIA.

photo of a management road in a forest
Recreation and Forest Management Road

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Tribal/State Relationship

The Pueblo wants to have a government-to-government relationship with the State of New Mexico. They want open communication to exist and want to be involved in projects at the beginning and not the middle or end of the process. In the past the tribe has not been notified of upcoming projects.

It is critical for tribes in New Mexico to have input with the State since Interstate, State Highway, and County roads go through all reservations in the state.

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Transportation Planning

The Pueblo is a member of the Northern Pueblos Regional Planning Organization (NPRPO). NPRPO is made up of the eight northern Pueblos, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos counties, and municipalities of Chama, Espanola, Questa, Red River, Taos, and Taos Ski Valley.

Currently Santa Clara Pueblo has a Scenic Byways project on the NPRPO transportation improvement recommendations list that will be submitted for consideration on the STIP.

The project would be for a Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan for the Puye Cliffs.

photo of cliffs
Puye Cliffs

The Pueblo is using IRR funds for planning and has a consultant working on the tribal plan. The long-range plan for the tribes will be complete in October 2003.

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The Pueblo maintains about 100 miles of road. The tribe owns 2 graders, 5 bulldozers, dump trucks, and water trucks and has two fulltime maintenance positions. The tribe receives $50,000 per year from BIA for maintenance. The tribe also uses some tribal funds or maintenance.

photo of a maintenance shop
Santa Clara Maintenance Shop

photo of yellow construction vehicles
Santa Clara Maintenance Equipment

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Tribal Issues and Needs

State Highway 30 is a near-term need for the tribe. The highway carries heavy peak-hour traffic through the reservation due to commuters to the Los Alamos National Laboratories. The tribe is interested in working with the state, the labs, the counties of Rio Arriba, Loa Alamos and Santa Fe as well as the state police and the City of Española to develop safety and congestion improvements.

The tribe has concerns about hazardous waste being transported through the reservation and there is a need for training in case of a hazardous materials situation. This is particularly of necessity due to the proximity of the national laboratories.

Tribe would like top see open communication with staff level. Communication can start from the bottom instead of the top.

Would like decision makers to know what needs are. FHWA doesn't come to the tribe to see what the needs are. Santa Clara is the largest of the 8 Northern Pueblos and has not been visited by the FHWA IRR Program personnel.

Tribe would like to see mechanism that gets funds directly to the tribal government.

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To provide Feedback, Suggestions or Comments for this page contact Tim Penney at tim.penney@dot.gov.