Federal grant would mean end of Central Avenue underpass

Created: 05/02/2014 5:25 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It’s Downtown Albuquerque at its lowest – and someday soon it may be gone.

It’s the Central Avenue underpass beneath the railroad tracks – a dark and gloomy tunnel during the day and an ominous and menacing place by night. The tunnel would go aby-bye if the federal government approves a $15 million “tiger” grant to match local funding. Pedestrians would cross over the tracks, not under, on a scenic walkway. Many who work and live Downtown are stoked to hear about the plan.

“Because it’s going to look prettier and it’s not going to be a real hassle for us to walk under there,” said Downtowner Antonio Bustillo.  “It feels like a real dungeon when you walk under it.”

The project would connect Downtown better to East Downtown, where there are big projects in the works for the city, UNM, and Innovate ABQ. Mayor Richard Berry says it’s not just aesthetics, but economics driving the project.

“Instead of just having to walk down through that railroad track situation that we have, you’ll get people up on grade, walking between Innovate Square and an entertainment hub and the rest of Downtown,” Berry said.

The project would also improve transit connections between the Rail Runner train, the Rapid Ride bus system, and a future rapid transit bus system on Central Avenue. The city should know in a couple of months whether the federal government is going to chip in or not.

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