Cost of new Route 66 Visitor Center doubles


Drawing visitors to the outer reaches of west Central is going to cost the city and the county a lot more than expected. 

For nearly two years there’s been talk of a Route 66 Visitor Center on Nine Mile Hill, and in that time the cost keeps climbing.

County officials say their vision for the visitor center has changed since they first announced the plan a couple years ago. Now it’s going to cost a lot more to bring that vision to life. 

The lot has been empty for a while, but with a sign advertising the new Route 66 Visitor Center comes the hope of building an attraction on the Westside 

“When we started seeing that it’s going to be going up we got kind of happy,” said Eric Waquiu.

It’s been nearly two years since Albuquerque City Councilors and Bernalillo County Commissioners announced a $3.4 million facility was in the works.
“From that point down to Central our game plan is to pull people off the freeway onto Central,” said Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada. 
Since then, however, the price tag has shot up.

“Right now we’re thinking the target we can get to is the $6 million building. Ideally, we’d get to an $8 million building,” said Bernalillo County Facilities Director Mary Murnane.

The city, county and the state are all pitching in to pay for the visitor center. The county says it really wants the new facility to become a Westside hot spot. 

“I think the idea started to evolve that perhaps it being more of a destination would make it more of an attraction and a resource for the community,” Murnane said.  

Tuesday night, county commissioners approved a design that includes features like a museum, restaurant, taproom, amphitheater and a neon sign graveyard.

“It’s not just a place where you pull up and get a pamphlet. That’s not the idea that the community wants,” said Quezada. 

Now that the design has been approved, the city and county will have to decide who will operate and maintain the visitor center. 

They hope to start construction on the Route 66 visitor center by next October.

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