City plans possible bike-pedestrian bridge between Rail Yards, neighborhood

Politics - Government

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The City of Albuquerque is looking to take its efforts to revamp the Rail Yards to new heights. Planners are now working on a project to build a bridge onto the city-owned property, but the idea has some neighbors leery.

The city is considering building a pedestrian and bike bridge over the fenced-off railroad tracks to link the Rail Yards site with the South Broadway neighborhood on the east side of the tracks. Which the pedestrian bridge idea is not new, some neighbors say they were surprised to hear the city is moving quickly toward a specific plan.

“Yes, we’d like an avenue to the Rail Yards, we just don’t think the way they’re planning this is right,” said Frances Armijo, President of the South Broadway Neighborhood Association and lifelong neighborhood resident. “I’m not saying it’s a dead issue, I’m just saying that so far I’m not hearing a lot of positive (opinions) come out of (neighbors.)”

The City of Albuquerque’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Association recently sent neighbors a copy of a map of the bridge’s proposed location. The map shows the bridge extending from the entrance of the blacksmith shop on the Rail Yards property east toward a city-owned stormwater retention pond off of Hazeldine and Commercial streets.

The idea for a bridge has been around since at least 2014 when the city completed a Rail Yards master plan. While the city is following many of the principles of the Rail Yards master plan, many actual redevelopment projects have ended up slightly different from the original plan’s outline.

While the idea for a bridge is not a surprise, neighbors say they were only recently contacted by city staffers about the potential project around June 1. The city has told neighbors it is facing a deadline to apply for possible federal funding for the project by the end of June.

KRQE News 13 asked downtown-area City Councilor Isaac Benton for his thoughts on the project Tuesday. Benton says in general, he supports more connectivity across the city.

“I think it’s in keeping with the spirit of the master plan and I, therefore, support it,” Benton said. “But I certainly want to hear and hear addresses any concerns from the South Broadway Neighborhood specifically.”

Some of those concerns include increased traffic in the neighborhood, hours that the bridge might be open for public use, and a possible increase in crime that might come if a parking lot is built on the neighborhood side of the bridge. The neighborhood is expected to meet with city officials this week to address some of its concerns.

A spokeswoman for the Keller administration’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency said Tuesday that no one was available to talk about the project. It’s unclear how much it would cost or if the city has any money for it so far.

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