City officials announce safety changes for the River of Lights

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – It’s been almost a year since the tragic death of a 7-year-old Albuquerque boy who was hit and killed on Central, outside the River of Lights event.

On Saturday, the city announced multiple changes to boost pedestrian safety for this year’s River of Lights.

“Central at Tingley will be closed for pedestrian crossing during the event itself. We’re going to redirect the pedestrians to go underneath the Bosque bike trail that goes underneath Central Avenue from the Tingley area up into the aquarium area as well,” said Scott Blackledge, CABQ chief for the Metro Security Division. 

The city says it has a high intensity activated cross-walk, or hawk signal, in place at the ART station east of Tingley. 

“That stops vehicle traffic for both eastbound and westbound on Central. And when that’s activated, that’ll make it significantly safer for the pedestrians to cross,” said Blackledge. “We’ll also have crossing guards there on peak nights and to assist with the hawk signal itself, and try to ensure the safety of the people crossing the street.”

The city will have extra crossing guards and a Metro Security sergeant stationed at Central and New York as well. As for Tingley, it will be reserved for event parking only.

“In the past, they’ve allowed regular parking here at Tingley. They’re not going to this year, they’re going to be directing people to the Park and Ride to stay,” Blackledge said. 

The city says a lot of these changes have been in the works for a while due to the congestion of years past. But, the tragic hit-and-run death of 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya last December highlighted the need to get it done as quickly as possible.

“Clearly the tragedy last year heightens the need for pedestrian safety, and so we’re just trying to implement that as best we can,” said Blackledge. 

So everyone can celebrate the event’s 25th anniversary safely.

River of Lights kicks off on Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 30. For more information on ticket prices and parking visit,

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