ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry is moving forward with plans to design a 50-mile bicycle loop around Albuquerque.
Berry on Thursday urged engineering firms interested in the project to think creatively about how to fill in the missing links in the existing trail system.
He wants it to be more than just a bike loop – perhaps with kiosks, rest areas, fountains and “way finding” information. Much of the loop is already in place, with about 16 miles left to be completed.
“I want a road map (showing) how to get this built,” Berry said during a presentation on the project.
It’s all part of “ABQ: The Plan,” Berry’s long-term initiative to invest in capital projects aimed at improving quality of life and spurring private investment.
The bike plan was initially proposed as part of a ballot question for last month’s municipal election. But city councilors revised the question to focus instead on funding for a complex of sports fields and improving the Paseo del Norte interchange.
Ultimately, the bond proposal failed at the polls, though Berry says ABQ: The Plan is much more than just that particular ballot measure.
In any case, the bike loop wasn’t part of the ultimate proposal.
Linda Rumpf, a project manager in the Mayor’s Office, said the city could go back to the voters for approval to fund construction of the bike loop, if necessary. The idea was extremely popular in public meetings held to discuss ideas for ABQ: The Plan, she said.
The city issued a request for proposals this month seeking engineering consultants to create a plan to construct the bike loop. Proposals are due Dec. 7.
About $150,000 is available for the work. The money came from general obligation bonds that fund planning efforts, Rumpf said.
The consultant to be hired would help determine how to align the missing links in the trail system; whether they should be in the roadway or separated into a distinct area beside the street, similar to the Tramway trail; and what other features should be added to the existing trails.
“Right now, the mayor wants a good, solid plan to move forward with,” Rumpf said.
Tramway, Paseo del Norte and Unser already form the bulk of the loop, but there are several gaps. One key question is how to connect the loop in the southeast part of town near Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Laboratories.
Another key corridor not yet planned is in the South Valley. The trail might run along Rio Bravo.
Berry stressed that the consultants should consider what partnerships would be possible with other government agencies, such as Bernalillo County and Kirtland Air Force Base.
Berry urged the consultants to think about designing something that would attract families. Connections to cultural amenities, such as Old Town museums, could be added, he said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal