Campus & Carlisle: If You Can’t Solve a Problem, Become a Historian

Yesterday Better Burque discussed the continuing saga of driving, cycling and parking along Campus Boulevard in Nob Hill. Today, let’s look at the east end of Campus. Namely, here:

campus and carlisle 2016

Campus & Carlisle looking eastbound uphill. Pretty safe to say, NOBODY likes this intersection. Neither cyclists, walkers, nor drivers. Yeah, the driver of the black pickup here is parking in the previously discussed bike lane that isn’t (and about four feet from the intersection, we might add), but that’s not why everybody hates this intersection.

For those BB readers who don’t regularly ride/walk/drive this nasty thing, let’s bird’s eye to find out why it makes many of us nervous just looking at the photo above:

campus central

While the bird’s eye doesn’t capture the added “feature” of grade (hill) coming north down Carlisle, this view illustrates many “features” that, for lack of a professional civil engineering term, suck. You’ve got curves, blind spots, significant traffic in many directions, and the aforementioned hill, but what you’ve got more than anything else is Central Avenue a grand total of 150 feet from Campus Blvd. (I measured it).

Whose stupid idea was it to put Campus Blvd. 150 feet from Central at Carlisle?

We’ll get back to that in a second, but first, how are we going to fix this intersection? I’ll wait for an answer. I don’t mind staying “on hold.” I don’t mind waiting a very, very long time, because hearing a truly workable solution to this problem ranks right up there with Middle East Peace and finding stray socks: It’s a very difficult problem. And I’ll be the very first to admit that I don’t have a solution. I’m all ears and popcorn waiting to hear that solution. Seriously.

You can tell how difficult the problem is, indirectly, from looking at the build-out for Albuquerque Rapid Transit and the new iteration of the Silver Bike Boulevard. A.R.T. addresses the problem of Campus & Carlisle by not addressing it at all, to my knowledge. Meanwhile, the tricky offset intersection of Silver at Carlisle, only 200 feet from Central (I measured it), was made better for cyclists and walkers by using a median turn lane to create a cycle track and small raised pedestrian refuge.

Campus & Carlisle is still untouched, much like it was way back in 1934. And now it’s time for that history lesson and why anybody was “stupid” enough to put Campus & Carlisle so close to Central Avenue.

campus central 1934 2

This is Nob Hill and environs in 1934.

  • Can you spot Campus & Carlisle on this map?
  • Notice that Copper (Campus extended east) simply ends at what appears to be Washington? And that this is the northern terminus of Washington?
  • Notice that Carlisle turns into a dirt road (dashed double lines) north of what I believe is Lomas?
  • Notice the city limits line?
  • Notice the little dots that represent houses/businesses, and that there are just about zero houses and businesses on the “new” streets built east and south of Campus & Carlisle?

Here’s another way of looking at it:

central around bryn mawr 1939

Above is a screen grab photo circa-1939 from the Nob Hill Main Street website of Central Avenue east of the Lobo Theatre (camera roughly at Bryn Mawr, perhaps). Keep in mind that Central was only known as “U.S. Highway 366” on that previous 1934 map, before becoming part of famed Route 66 in 1937.

And in 1939, now part of Route 66, Central looked like this. And if the camera had been facing east instead of west, the photo couldn’t have included the Nob Hill Shopping Center, as that wasn’t built until 1946.

Putting the intersection of Campus & Carlisle so close to Central Avenue *made all kinds of sense back then. Who could have anticipated it would ever become dangerous to do so? Okay, maybe somebody could have anticipated this eventual outcome back in 1934, what with building all those neighborhood streets east and south toward the city limits, but I can’t seem to find via “Old Maps” exactly when Campus Boulevard was originally constructed. Note the many houses already lining Campus in the 1934 map. It was obviously some years prior, and I’ve researched quite a bit to pin down a year, but without success. If you’ve got any info on that, please pass it along.

While perhaps entertaining to lovers of history and those wishing to defend the “stupid” civil engineers who put Campus Blvd. & Central so close to Central Avenue, this historical retrospective hasn’t gotten around to solving the current problem. In fact, I’ll freely admit the digression above serves only as further notice that Better Burque does NOT have a magic wand solution to the dangerous intersection of Campus & Carlisle.

Frankly, all this post has possibly accomplished for users today is to perhaps placate those nervously walking, cycling and driving through this intersection with the thought that “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Speaking of good ideas. Again, I’m all ears and popcorn ready to hear your solution to this problem. We all are.



*Although there is the lingering question: Why didn’t they just angle Campus Blvd. directly INTO Central Avenue at Carlisle, ala Monte Vista/Central/Girard? Not that such a solution wouldn’t have also led to long-term problems, as very much evidenced by Monte Vista/Central/Girard.






5 thoughts on “Campus & Carlisle: If You Can’t Solve a Problem, Become a Historian

  1. I think they should put up a divider like ok Girard and Silver. It will make biking across this horrible intersection easier and reduce overall traffic through campus.


  2. Appreciate the input, Casey. A diverter ala Girard/Silver would help reduce the dizzying number of things users have to look out for, knocking out left turns from Copper, and I wonder what could be done to reduce what is most scary, at least to me, overall: drivers turning off of Central. That combined with the sightline problems of drivers drivers queuing on Copper northbound, make both right and left turns off Central particularly dangerous.


  3. Did St Timothy’s Church really move from 211 Jefferson NE (behind Highland Senior Center) into the old jewelry sales place at the NE corner of Carlisle and Central?


    1. Michelle: I don’t know. So I called and the person I spoke with is looking into it. Probably just Google getting it wrong, but who knows? Well, not yet, anyway.


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