ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For years, it’s been arguably one of the worst walks around one of the most popular event spaces in Barelas, near Downtown Albuquerque. But that feeling may be fading away for most, as the city has finished construction on a big new pathway around the Rail Yards property.

Calling it the “first part” of the Rail Trail project, the city says construction crews have finished work on more than 1,000 feet of new sidewalk and bike path stretching along the west side of the Rail Yards. The new pathway includes wide sidewalks, new fencing decorative street lamps, landscaping including rocks and trees, and several benches where people can sit along the trail.

In total, the path stretches roughly 1,300 feet starting at the entrance near 1st and Hazeldine, stretching south on on the west side of the Rail Yards property to where the Wheels Museum near 2nd and Pacific. The project took roughly two-years from start to finish, having opened with contractor bidding just days before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New Mexico.

The pathway replaces what was an amalgamation of various broken, unconnected sidewalks, roads and dirt patches. The pathway also includes landscape buffer, placing distance between people on the path and road traffic.

“The Rail Yards is a catalytic site for creating an iconic destination and community,” said Karen Iverson, Manager of the City of Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency. “The enhanced streetscape will encourage cyclists and pedestrians to safely access the site and create a landscape buffer for the neighbors.”

Over the past five years, the city has used roughly $17 million dollars on various projects at the Rail Yards. Those projects have included a new outdoor plaza; demolition of several old, non-historical buildings; a paved parking lot; remodeling and reopening of the Flue Shop; contaminated soil removal; floor replacements, and new roofs on several of the larger buildings on the property.

One of the project’s first major tests of the new pathway project, so to speak, will come this Saturday as the city will welcome crowds to the Rail Yards for Mayor Tim Keller’s first in-person State of the City party and address since January 2020. The event is expected to have food, free music and entertainment among other elements.