ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Trash, graffiti and flooding. It’s the first thing you see when you enter downtown from the east side. However, the money fell through and now the plans to address the problems are on hold.
The city was relying on money from the federal government to fix up the gateway to downtown, the bridge at First Street and Central Avenue.
“I wouldn’t walk through there in the dark,” said Sharlene Pereece. Sharlene Pereece is talking about the tunnel at Central Avenue and First Street. It’s not exactly pleasing to the eye. In fact it’s covered in graffiti and it’s dark. “It’s scary because who knows what’s at the end of the tunnel,” said Pereece.
However, the past two monsoon seasons have seen heavy rains flooding the underpass. In August, at least four cars got stuck. The drivers had to swim to safety.
The city had a plan to fix those problems and wanted to redesign the underpass. People would walk over instead of under the bridge. The city also wanted to add gates and flashing lights to warn drivers about flood waters.
Officials were relying on a $15 million federal grant to pay for it all, but it fell through.
“Last week we found out we weren’t awarded a grant,” said Albuquerque Municipal Development Director Michael Riordan,
The city says more than 800 organizations applied for the funding and only 75 of them actually got it. Albuquerque wasn’t one of them, meaning all those fixes to an already problematic downtown spot will be delayed.
“It hurts our time frame a little bit. Obviously, if we had that money now we would be going into construction sooner,” said Riordan.
City officials have about $7 million of local money to start working on smaller projects. The city is still trying to figure out what those projects might be. Residents say they’re hopeful.
“You have the movie theater right here, you have the whole downtown scene, restaurants it’s a real nice area,” said Alfonso Saavedra. “I think this one particular spot would really benefit something like that.”
The city says it could be another year before any major changes are made.
Officials say they will reapply for the grant next spring.