ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Over the years it’s been a constant battle for the city to maintain the pedestrian underpass at First Street and Central Ave. Now city departments are working together to try and keep them clean and accessible. 

The city’s director of municipal development, Patrick Montoya, explained, “Because of the condition itself the paint, the improper lighting the fact that people were still hanging out here that it was a bigger challenge than it had been in the past for the solid waste department, for director Whelan’s folks, to come in and do what they needed to do.”

The underpass connects east downtown with west downtown. Montoya continued, “I think what we’re trying to do is to encourage people and people that are staying in the hotels that are here residents that live in the Albuquerque lofts. It’s safe for you to come by at 6 at night or 10 at night.” 

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City officials heard concerns from people living in the area and knew improvements needed to be made. “We had a lady with her daughter come through one day and was actually really in fear of going through here because there were three or four people just kind of camping out underneath. So I think what we’ve done is we’ve made it safer for everyone,” Montoya shared. 

Now as you approach the underpass you can hear music playing in the tunnel. Houston Chaffin said, “I do think the music is not as it’s not as effective as I think they would want it to be. I do feel like it’s a little loud, they could stand to change the type of music. While not everyone may be a fan of it, city officials say the music serves a specific purpose. “It really is meant to sort of distract people from just hanging out,” explained Montoya.  

The city’s solid waste department painted all of the walls and power washes them twice a week to keep things as clean as possible. There’s also 24/7 lighting to keep the tunnels lit up at all times. Many pedestrians in the city are welcoming these changes. Joe Kanicar said, “I think the light they put in there is a good idea. I don’t use them that often but it’s nice to know there’s going to be some light coming through here at night.” 

It cost about $67,000.00 to make these improvements to the underpass which took about 6 weeks. According to the city’s municipal development department, additional lighting has been installed at all of the bridges under I-40, also to encourage pedestrian traffic.