The City of Albuquerque City Council is proposing vehicular and pedestrian improvements at the intersections of Central and Rio Grande and Central and San Pasquale, as well as a dedicated pedestrian and bicycle connection route between the Old Town area and the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Garden.
This segment of West Central Avenue experiences heavy traffic congestion, primarily during peak travel hours. In addition, this section of roadway connects vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians to one of the few Rio Grande river crossings in the city.
The West Central Avenue Improvements project proposes to make needed enhancements to these intersections to improve traffic circulation in the area, improve facilities for all modes of transportation and accommodate existing and future capacity needs.Proposed improvements being considered include:
- Central and Rio Grande Intersection:
- Add eastbound and westbound thru movements to accommodate AM/PM capacity.
- Eastbound thru will be continuous unless pedestrian activates crossing signal.
- Convert the south leg of the intersection to a right-in/right-out.
- Modify the cross-walk to keep pedestrians away from the large volume of approaching vehicles.
- Improve traffic signal operation.
- Central and Lomas Intersection:
- Convert the existing 5-leg intersection to a more efficient 4-leg intersection.
- San Pasquale Ave will intersect Central Avenue just south of the new Central and Lomas intersection.
- Enhanced Pedestrian/bicycle connectivity from Old Town area to the Albuquerque Aquarium and Botanical Garden.
- Streetscape improvements to help the surrounding community’s aesthetic quality, identity, economic activity, health, social cohesion and opportunity.
In August 1998 the City began working on a plan, the Central Avenue Streetscape – Urban Design Master Plan, to “provide a blueprint for the redevelopment of Central Avenue from Downtown west to the City Limits”. The Central Avenue Streetscape project split the nearly 4-mile long project (8th Street to the City Limits) into shorter segments, or districts, with design intended to represent the individuality and history of each district. At that time, Central Avenue was a 5-lane roadway (2 lanes in each direction with a center turn lane) with limited landscaping and pedestrian friendly facilities. The West Downtown/Park District (as named in the Central Avenue Streetscape Plan) reviewed several alternatives for roadway and intersection configurations including a 3-lane section.
In June 2010, the West Central Avenue Corridor Concept Plan was completed and was the basis for the current West Central Improvements project. The overall goals of the project were to improve Central Avenue from 8th Street to 47th Street by:
- Creating a “Complete Street” from 8th Street to Lomas
- Improving the intersection of Central and Lomas
- Enhancing the pedestrian and bicycle improvements from Lomas to 47th Street.
The West Central Avenue Corridor Concept Plan presented recommendations and preliminary design concepts for the 2.5-mile segment of Central Avenue from 8th Street to 47th Street. Ultimately, the proposed improvements were to encourage compact, mixed-use pedestrian and transit-oriented redevelopment in the study segment of West Central and to encourage pedestrians and bicyclists to use West Central Avenue as a connection between downtown Albuquerque and other local destinations such as Old Town, the Albuquerque Aquarium and Biological Park and Manzano Day School.
With the focus of this project being the Old Town area, it quickly became clear that traffic congestion discourages direct pedestrian connectivity during peak travel times (morning and afternoon work traffic). Therefore, the scope of the project was adjusted to include that portion of West Central from the Lomas/Central intersection through the Rio Grande/Central intersection with trail and sidewalk improvements west to the “Bio Park”. Although the section of Central from 8th Street to Lomas was re-striped as a 3-lane roadway with on-street parking, the “Complete Street” improvements have been removed from the scope.
From the initial planning efforts in late 1998, through the most recent Concept Plan, the intent and primary project goals have remained consistent:
- Improve connectivity and safety of the Central Avenue Corridor for all users
- Improve traffic and pedestrian operations at intersections
- Accommodate bicyclists within the corridor to close a gap in bicycle connectivity between downtown and the City’s bikeway and trail system
- Support the ultimate vision for the revitalization of Central Avenue
- Improve quality of life and create a sense of neighborhood through the design of safe and attractive streets