In 1695, “La Majada Land Grant” was awarded to Field Captain Don Jacinto de Palaez for his efforts in reconquering New Mexico. La Bajada Village was subsequently established at the base of the escarpment and first documented by the Franciscan Church in 1737. [US Forest Service]In the 1800s engineers from the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway diverted its main line from the craggy promontory building it alongside the Rio Galisteo instead.
Before reaching La Bajada, the water flows west from the Santa Fe River through a pipeline traversing the Pueblo of Cochiti, Pueblo of Santa Domingo and US National Forest Service land. Below the diversion, the natural stream bed is dry. Cochiti leaders say the amount of water flowing into the pipeline exceeds the amount allocated to La Bajada’s 52 acres of farmland as a result of modifications made to the diversion structure. In short, the pueblo accuses the acequia community of taking too much water from the river. The situation offers a window onto one of New Mexico’s most pressing problems: Less and less water is flowing through the state as climate change and persistent drought tighten their grip. [Santa Fe Reporter]
Back in July, the New Mexico Department of Transportation started the 2-years-plus rebuild of Interstate 25 up La Bajada, just south of Santa Fe, with soil mixing to stabilize the roadway and slope mitigation. That’s because the road is quite literally sliding off the hill. The almost $40 million project ($39,904,622.33) is scheduled to run through November 2024. It’s a big job on a section of road with an interesting history, according to NMDOT District 5’s Jim Murray. Murray explains “the geotechnical analysis of the current conditions has determined that the most cost-effective way of correcting the issue is to improve the existing embankment by soil mixing methods – in lieu of completely replacing the entire embankment. This soil mitigation effort will greatly improve the embankment/fill conditions and allow for a new pavement section to be installed without the current dipping/sagging/cracking issues coming back.” [Albuquerque Journal]