ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Changes are coming to Downtown later this month. The City is taking steps to make the underpass at Central and First Street cleaner and safer for pedestrians.

City officials said they will begin preparations in and around the area later this month, and they are getting ready for construction moving forward.

“This underpass has been a problem for decades,” said Joaquin Baca, member of the ABQCore Neighborhood Association. “There’s always safety concerns, there’s health and welfare concerns. I mean, it can get pretty bad under there with people using it as a restroom. People using [it] for selling drugs.”

The City has plans to make some more permanent changes to the underpass. This comes after several temporary updates were put into place earlier this year in an attempt to reduce loitering in the area such as putting new coats of paint and adding music.

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“The loud music, the lights that never turn off, are supposed to act as a deterrent, so you’re using the underpass space strictly to pass through,” Baca explained.

Now, they’re looking at raising the underpass and making it the same height as the railroad track. This changes the underpass from a dark tunnel to an open-air crossing.

“The next phase, of course, would be connecting it to the greater Downtown and the communities,” Baca added.

The City stated, “This is a priority area and will be one of the first pieces of the project to be constructed in the coming year.”