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ABQ seeks funds to transform Central, railroads tracks

Downtown_Rendering_C_4-22-14_FINAL_LowRes (1)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The city of Albuquerque and the Mid-Region Council of Governments applied for $15 million in federal funds this week to help transform the dingy pedestrian underpass at Central Avenue and the railroad tracks.

A rendering of what it might look like shows people walking up long ramps to cross at the surface level, where the railroad tracks are.

The way the intersection is set up now forces pedestrians to walk through a tunnel-like path beneath the railroad tracks. It’s dark and uninviting — a barrier between the Downtown core west of the tracks and the neighborhoods and business that lie to the east.

Other improvements are already planned. The University of New Mexico and other public agencies are working to transform the old First Baptist Church site at Central and Broadway into a hub for entrepreneurs, researchers and students. Central New Mexico Community College is also planning an education center nearby.

Mayor Richard Berry wants to bring a Bus Rapid Transit system to the area, running along Central from the West Side through Nob Hill.

The request for $15 million from the federal government would require a local match. The city and Council of Governments could learn the fate of their application in about two months.

“Our plans for Innovation Central will broaden the economic landscape of the area which makes the timing of pursuing these improvements all the more relevant,” Berry said in a news release.  “This project would bring even greater walkability to an area that is already seeing significant positive changes with better access for pedestrians to the Convention Center and through the Fourth Street improvements already underway.”