ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The city’s tried to do more in recent years to make downtown a friendlier place to walk, but a newly built sidewalk and curb ramp is getting a lot of attention for what looks like a major oversight.
The sidewalk and curb ramp in question sits at the corner of Fourth Street and Coal Avenue, directly along the new Zocalo Lofts mixed-use development.
The still-under-construction building will house apartments and is also expected to have a ground floor food market.
“It’s supposed to be a real city, urban, ‘walking-to-the-market’ feel to it,” said Scot Key, a longtime Albuquerque resident who’s been curious about the project.
But Key also noticed a recent issue with the project and the sidewalks around it.
“I was kind of awestruck, to be honest with you,” said Key, speaking of a concrete pedestal that was built in the middle of the newly aligned sidewalk and curb ramp.
The concrete pedestal is the base for the city’s overhead traffic signal, which has been there for years. Before the traffic signal, the property the Zocalo Lofts was built on was a vacant dirt lot.
As developers built out the Zocalo Lofts and paved a sidewalk, the traffic signal pole remained in the same place. Today, that pole still right in the middle of the sidewalk ramp, surrounded by new concrete.
“Yeah, the first impression would be, this is so wrong and awful that it must be ‘the job’ on the way to ‘the job,’ but then you notice how new the concrete is,” said Key.
Key notes how the pole and concrete pedestal are clearly out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as the fixtures make it impossible for a wheelchair to pass through.
“Today, there’s no detour for folks in wheelchairs other than going out on the street to get around this,” said Key.
Online, Key published a blog post with his concerns about the pole and concrete pedestal. His post got a response from the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Sarita Nair.
Nair tweeted, “my understanding is that the light will be moved as part of the construction project underway.”
“I appreciate her responding to me through Twitter and obviously reading the post to see it in the first place, and I think there are steps being made in the right direction,” said Key.
While he appreciates the response, Key also says the sidewalk goof shows how the city needs to keep a closer eye on contractors work and how it affects pedestrian and bike routes.
“There’s not enough thought going into that, both in terms of the detour process, as well as the actually construction itself,” said Key.
A member of the Greater Albuquerque Bicycling Advisory Committee, Key also says the project is an example of why the city needs a coordinator for bicycle and pedestrian related issues.
“The city has always had a hard time, or has not hired what we would call an ‘active transportation coordinator,’ or a ‘bike-ped coordinator’ you might hear, for someone to be on site, at jobs, to just be that voice of reason,” said Key.
The city was unable to tell KRQE News 13 Friday when that sidewalk will be fixed or who will pick up the tab for moving the traffic signal, however, many city employees weren’t working Friday because it was the day after Independence Day.
The Zocalo Lofts building is expected to open this summer.