New Albuquerque bus system plans delay west Central revamp

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s the pride of Albuquerque, but one part of the historic Route 66 byway is suffering from neglect and damaged beyond simple repairs.

So what’s taking so long to find a fix?

It’s been more than seven years since the city started working toward fixing Central Avenue’s intersections at Rio Grande and at Lomas, but a fix may take a few more.

While New Mexico’s road construction season is here across I-25 and other parts of Albuquerque, there’s one place in the city where you won’t find any orange barrels even though most drivers are bouncing all over the place.

“The road’s in pretty bad condition,” said Randy Vallez, an Albuquerque driver.

“There’s just a lot of bumps,” said Miguel Rivera, who works over at the nearby Rain Tunnel Car Spa.

A bumpy ride is what drivers have to deal with along west Central Avenue everyday now between 14th Avenue and Rio Grande. The bumps are most pronounced at some of the major intersections including Lomas, San Pasquale and Rio Grande. The area is a major connector for drivers hitting I-40, heading to the North Valley or to the west side.

“It’s kind of not been touched up in a while,” said Rivera.

As it turns out, the city has wanted to revamp west Central since about 2008. The stretch of road sits in Albuquerque city councilor Isaac Benton’s district.

“Now’s the time to rebuild them and hopefully we’ll get on it soon,” said Benton in an interview with KRQE News 13 on Wednesday.

Back in November, the city even held public meetings about their hopeful immediate plan to fix west Central. However, now there’s a delay.

The revamping project may not happen for another year or two, that’s because of the city’s proposed high-speed “bus rapid transit” project along Central.

“If were not for the bus rapid transit, I would already be trying to find funding for the road project,” said Benton.

According to a spokesman at the city’s Department of Municipal Development, by the end of the year the city is hoping to have a final design for what west Central’s redesign will look like, and how BRT could impact the roadway. The road will likely get a couple “bus only” lanes, as shown in some concept artwork.

brt rio grande concept
Concept drawings show one of the proposed ideas for running dedicated “bus-only” lanes through the intersection of Rio Grande and Central. In this drawing, a new center street bus stop would sit just east of Rio Grande, in the middle of Central Ave.

“Right now it’s up to the federal government to accept our application,” said Benton.

Until the city gets that green light, the bumps are likely to stick around on west Central.

The approval of the city’s bus rapid transit system could also mean a lot of the money to re-do the west Central intersections. The project cost is still unclear though, because the city is only about half-way through the redesign process so far.

When the city ultimately revamps west Central, it also plans on widen sidewalks, adding landscaping and upgrading bike and pedestrian crossings.

 

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