Anyone who’s been to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta knows that sometimes many hours are spent just sitting in traffic trying to get in and out. 

At a news conference Wednesday, the city introduced short-term and long-term ways to help with the traffic congestion, and that includes potentially adding a railroad spur right near the field.

The city said it’s taken 10 years of work to try to break the traffic gridlock and bring more parking for the nearly 4,300 vehicles traveling to Balloon Fiesta each day of the event.

“Different possibilities for having a Rail Runner stop—a temporary one—for Balloon Fiesta events,” Mayor Tim Keller said.

The city is asking the state legislature and city council to fund a spur line from the Rail Runner track to the west side of Balloon Fiesta Park.

A company that performed the feasibility study on it recommended an $8.4 million spur that can bring 1,000 people at a time to a platform just east of the diversion channel.

Additionally. the city hopes to also build a ramp to I-25 for an easier park exit. 

“If the state of New Mexico’s DOT could just take the on-ramp and just move it down a few hundred feet, it would allow people to exit out Balloon Fiesta Parkway and get right on I-25 going south. So that allows us to move a lot more people more efficiently,” AIBF Operations Director Sam Parks said.

Relocating the ramp would cost about $2.5 million as part of the G.O. bond package that voters will get to weigh in on in November. 

Plus, the city wants to make Park and Ride more efficient by using bigger city buses instead of school buses, and reevaluating the bus routes to and from the park. This, after last year’s Park and Ride disaster that left hundreds of people paying for tickets but never getting to the park.

“We have partnered up with the University of New Mexico’s civil engineering department for a traffic study,” Parks explained. “The study is going to look at all parts of traffic here at the park as well as Park and Ride locations to try to figure out a more efficient way to try to get the buses to the park, get the buses back from those locations… but also how we can get people back and forth from the park more efficiently.”

The city says the quickest time frame for these projects could be for the Balloon Fiesta in 2021, pending federal approval and funding.

READ: Balloon Fiesta Park Railroad Spur Feasibility Study