Plans to upgrade downtown pedestrian tunnels in the works

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The last three mayors have tried to spruce up Central by the tracks, and now there’s another push to do something about the ugly entrance to downtown. It’s not a pleasant walk or drive through this tunnel, but one city councilor wants to get something done once and for all.

Taking a stroll through the pedestrian tunnel in downtown Albuquerque, it’s hard to ignore the shortcomings. It’s noisy, you’ve got to watch where you step, vandalism marks the walls, the lighting is sub-par and you never know who you’ll cross paths with.

“It’s generally the people down there that make it uncomfortable,” said local Lorenzo Maestas.

The Central tunnel under the tracks is supposed to connect people from the up-and-coming EDo district to the heart of the city, but not everyone is eager to make that connection through here.

“At night I probably wouldn’t walk under it,” said local Dustin Hazer.

But there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. City Councilor Isaac Benton wants to clean it up by adding more lighting and panels to quiet the loud traffic, even possibly adding music through a PA system into the tunnels.

“People tend to not to just linger and do bad things when there’s classical music playing,” said City Councilor Isaac Benton.

It’s a toned-down plan from others that have been pitched over the years. Mayor Chavez wanted a pedestrian bridge as part of his downtown arena plan. Mayor Berry wanted to spruce up the tunnel and move the pedestrian paths onto the train tracks and add a bridge over the tracks connecting ABQ Innovate to One Central.

“I would feel more comfortable using that,” said Maestas.

Although Councilor Benton wants to get immediate changes done for the tunnels underneath the tracks, he’s not scrapping other grand ideas yet.

“That’s something that might still happen one day,” said Councilor Benton.

Councilor Benton said those plans could be rolled out next week. He hopes to get construction started later this year.

The mayor’s office is on board with Benton’s current plans.

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