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San Miguel Will Have Traffic Lights

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By Jesus Aguado

San Miguel is famous for not having traffic lights. In fact, the only one that existed previously was at the crossroads of what is now the Bicentennial Bridge, and that one was later removed, not only because of accidents but because of civil resistance to it. There is one other (and that has gone viral, as they say) and that is the one that regulates traffic during holiday periods in front of Casa de Europa on calle San Francisco. A traffic officer climbs a low wooden step, and works a portable traffic light that changes according to how he wants traffic to flow.

Now the administration has announced that 91 traffic lights will be installed on the Manuel Zavala Libramiento, from the Ventanas roundabout to the Allende roundabout. This move, say city officials, will better regulate traffic, allow pedestrians to cross the highway, and “create a safety belt” with surveillance cameras.

This is the only place in the city where traffic lights will be installed.

Meanwhile, the city is very slowly advancing on the process to approve a reconstruction of the El Pípila roundabout, located at the junction between the Salida a Celaya and the Libramiento, right by Mega Comercial supermarket.

According to the municipal government’s press office, the 91 traffic lights will be distributed at 13 intersections. Thirty-six will contain crossing lights with a smart button that pedestrians will be able to use to request that cars come to a halt.

On the Libramiento, 77 cameras will also be installed, with a 30-day storage capacity. Twenty-two of the cameras can cover 180-degree angles. The rest cover 100-degree angles.

The administration has set aside the money to cover the cost of the project, the contractor, supplier, and vehicle traffic studies.

The installation schedule

The traffic light project will be developed in three stages:

Stage 1, at the roundabout located at the intersection of the Libramiento and the road to Alcocer, started September 9, will be completed by September 24. Work on the area around the Allende roundabout will also be part of this stage, starting September 17. The area of the Libramiento in the vicinity of the Caracol will also see construction work.

Stage 2 will then be carried out from September 25 to October 25 at the Bicentennial roundabout, on the Libramiento around the area of the H + Hospital, on the stretch of road near calle Josefina Orozco, and at the intersection of Avenida Alamo.

Stage 3 takes place from October 25 to November 25 on the Libramiento at the intersection with the San Luis Rey roundabout, as well as at the intersection with Avenida Independencia and at the intersections with calle Obraje, Avenida Central, and calle Fray Pedro de Ghent. A pedestrian crossing will also be installed at the intersection with calle 1 de Mayo.

Improving El Pípila

A plan put forward by Mayor Villarreal that would involve a road underneath the troubled intersection has yet to receive federal approval despite the fact that the state is almost ready to open bids.

The proposal to change the Pípila roundabout has been a political issue since the 2018 elections, during the administration of Ricardo Villarreal (2015–2018). At the time, Villarreal, in partnership with the College of Architects, proposed a simple reconstruction of the Pípila roundabout, adding an overpass, an idea which the current mayor has rejected in favor of a plan that would divert some traffic underground.

The roundabout project must be approved by the federal government because some of the roads leading into El Pípila , i.e., the highway to Celaya, which is part of the Libramiento, is federally owned However, the Salida a Celaya roadway is the city’s domain.

Some observers have raised concerns that the underground passage Luis Alberto Villarreal proposes will be flooded because a stream crosses the area. Villarreal has countered that there will be technology worthy of “The Best City in the World” and that flooding will not happen.

Villarreal has already said that this project must be accompanied by the construction of alternate routes—bypass roads—to lead heavy traffic away from El Pípila and to other areas of San Miguel. Among those roads is one that should connect the road to Los Rodríguez-Querétaro with the town of Dolores and another to divert traffic coming from Querétaro and heading toward Celaya so that heavy trucks do not pass through San Miguel’s urban area.

Many of the accidents that have occurred at the El Pípila roundabout have been caused by tractor-trailers that lost control of their brakes on the downhill slope leading into the traffic circle.

Although there has been progress, the city still has not been able to completely gain access to the lands that these bypasses would have to cross.

No start date and no total closure

Several press releases from the local government have suggested that construction of the underground road will begin shortly, but the city has yet to award a contract for the work. San Miguel Director of Public Works and Infrastructure Antonio Soria told Atención that the state Secretary of Infrastructure and Public Works should open bidding for the work, with a budget of 150 million pesos, on September 19 or 20. The request for proposals period would be open for the following 30–35 business days, he said.

According to Soria, stage zero would consist of the removal of the roundabout and the installation of traffic lights to regulate traffic. There will only be partial road closings during the construction period, he assured residents.

“The work will have several stages, but there will be no total closure. Rather, some of the lanes will be made two-way traffic so that the vehicles can circulate,” he said.

In the new thoroughfare, there will be two small islands, one containing the statue in honor of El Pípila and in the other a statue marking the Ruta de la Independencia (Independence Route). It’s a piece of cantera stone currently located in the Mega Comercial (La Comer) parking lot.

 

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El Pípila

Although it is still not known what name it will be given when the roundabout is reconstructed, it is currently named after Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, a man who legend keeps alive although history is uncertain that he existed at all.

De los Reyes Martínez is said to have been born and died in San Miguel el Grande, today known as San Miguel de Allende. He was supposedly born in 1782 and died in 1863, a miner who joined Independence leader Miguel Hidalgo’s military forces in September 1810.

On September 28, so the story goes, de los Reyes Martínez was involved in the insurgents’ attack on the city of Guanajuato, specifically on the Alhondiga de Granaditas, the public grain exchange, where Spanish loyalists had holed themselves up against Hidalgo’s invading army.

So the legend goes, De los Reyes Martínez crawled out from the attackers’ position and shielded his body with a heavy slab of stone that he strapped to his back to deflect attacks, carrying a torch. When he got close enough to the grain exchange building, he managed to set fire to the door, leading to an important defeat in the fight for independence from the Spanish Viceroyalty.

 

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