ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city is giving the public a sneak peek at what the new Rail Trail bike and walking path downtown could look like and they want to know what everyone thinks about it. The renderings show the city’s latest vision for a path along the train tracks from Lomas all the way down to Central through downtown.
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“This project provides an enhanced cyclist and pedestrian facility that we haven’t seen before in Albuquerque,” said Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency manager, Karen Iverson.
The Rail Trail project is expected to be constructed in phases with the first phase, a new railroad crossing at Marquette, already seeing some progress. “What’s great is that we are phasing it and able to see incremental progress. We already started with the Marquette crossing and as we go north to south we can phase in the project as we have funding,” said Iverson.
The Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency already has a third of the funding for the project with about $5 million in city lodgers tax and transportation funds, but they’re also asking for another $10 million dollars in state and federal money. “We are hoping that in this year’s legislative cycle that we are able to secure the additional funding in addition to some of the funding from the federal infrastructure funds that have been recently announced,” Iverson added.
The Rail Trail framework will be more than just shaded paths with trees. The city hopes it helps bring more businesses and more people exploring downtown. “It’s also going to be a really exciting cultural path that’s going to include art and other amenities that will really engage the community, both residents and visitors,” said Iverson.
A downtown coffee shop right along the tracks, Villa Myriam supports the trail saying lots of customers are cut off from walking in from the downtown core because of the fence between their business and the tracks.
“We are sort of in a unique location off the beaten path so we have limited foot traffic on a day-to-day basis,” said Villa Myriam Coffee & Roastery General Manager, Tim Torres. “I can see this area turning into what I think Nob Hill was when they got that area going.”
The city also formed a group called the Friends of the Rail Trail. It’s made up of property owners in the area that will keep an eye out to keep the area safer. The Rail Trail could take five years to complete.