ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A big, bright sign that is supposed to spruce up Central in Albuquerque and draw tourists to the old Route 66 is going dark.
A portion of the neon-lit archway doesn’t light up anymore.
“It’s something that the tourists first see,” said Albuquerque resident Geraldine Lovato. “That’s the attraction they first see coming from out east.”
During the day, the sign, which was built about 10-years-ago, fully welcomes visitors in and out of the Duke City. However, when the sun goes down, so do a handful of the lights on the sign including one of the sixes in “Route 66.”
“It looks bad for the city,” said Peter Lovato.
“They only see half of it lit up,” said Geraldine.
Peter and Geraldine Lovato have been going to the Western View Diner located right next to the archway nearly every day for the last two decades.
For months, the couple said it has watched the sign lose its glow.
“It’s disappointing that they can’t fix the one fixture, the art that they have here at Route 66,” said Geraldine.
The city said it’s an ongoing problem.
“Probably every two to three months, one sign or another will go out or a potion of it, so we have to go out and repair it,” said City of Albuquerque Municipal Development Deputy Director Melissa Lozoya.
Lozoya said the repairs aren’t cheap; she said the city spends about $25,000 every year to maintain the neon signs on Central.
It says it hasn’t fixed the one on Central near Coors because it plans to upgrade the sign’s light system.
“The technology has gotten a lot better, so now we are looking at LED which will last a lot longer and actually look a lot better,” said Lozoya.
The city hopes to get funding for the light project in the next couple of weeks. If everything works out, the new lights could be installed by the end of the year.
The city plans on upgrading about eight of the ten neon signs along Central.