The northern terminus of the South Diversion Channel Trail at Rio Bravo is currently a very unfriendly place.
As the sign, and lack of previous pavement, indicates, there’s no longer a little spur to Broadway/NM-47 from the terminus. Meanwhile, vehicles are backed up day and night due to the Rio Bravo/I-25 Interchange construction project. Trash and jagged blocks of concrete are everywhere.
Here’s a map, in case you don’t make it down this far south much. Note the trail alongside the South Diversion Channel here is the “Chris Chavez Trail.” Mr. Chavez was a fire fighter killed riding his bicycle to work back in 1999. In 2000, a bas relief sculpture memorial to Mr. Chavez, entitled “Spinning” was placed at this currently unfriendly spot:
Unlike its partner, the North Diversion Channel, the South Diversion Channel is only multi-use trail for a short while, looping north from Tijeras Arroyo about a mile or so south. Here’s the approach to the northern terminus:
And here’s a view of the Channel as it goes underneath what appears to be a pretty old bridge at Rio Bravo:
You might have noticed above from the Google Map that this terminus is pretty close (“about 9 minutes”) to my house. I’ve bicycled a bit over 4,000 miles this year, many of those getting from the South Valley to/from “town,” but two rides I very rarely take are:
- The Chris Chavez Trail
- Anywhere in the far Southeastern Part of Albuquerque (e.g., the Airport)
The reason is pretty simple:
Above is where the continuation of the Chris Chavez/South Diversion Channel Trail should be. Well, technically it should go under busy Rio Bravo Blvd. and head north before, importantly, veering east under Broadway/NM-47 and Interstate 25. And because this Trail just stops at this unfriendly spot, I don’t ride it much.
Here is an excerpt from the 2040 Long Range Bicycle Roadway Map:
I’ve placed some crude x’s along the green dashed line indicating planned expansion of bike trail. The “x” furthest south is the current northern terminus. The middle “x” is where the actual Channel goes under I-25. The top “x” is just one of many possible termini for future extension, this one at University Boulevard, a road scheduled for major multi-modal improvements in the near-to-medium term.
Of course, you see tons of dashed green lines running all over the place on the 2040 Long Range Roadway Map. Potential expansion of bike facilities, in this case multi-use paths, is scheduled, long-term, everywhere, particularly in this far southern part of town.
But here are a few reasons why extending South Diversion Channel Trail further north, and east, must be at the top of any list dedicated to prioritizing which of the many dashed green lines above become reality:
- While Rio Bravo/I-25 interchange, and the (perhaps) eventual Sunport extension, will have cycling/walking improvements, the fact is very few non-vehicular cyclists/walkers (i.e., the huge preponderance) will walk/ride the steep grade to/from I-25. Ever.
- Going under/over I-25, or any interstate highway, via roadways shared directly with cars will never attract the sufficient numbers of roadway cyclists to significantly grow ridership here. Extending South Diversion Channel Trail under I-25 will offer the same safety comforts found at its northern partner, the North Diversion Channel Trail.
- Why does the northern half of Albuquerque get nice things while the southern half doesn’t?
- To be honest, not extending South Diversion Channel Trail seems a bit disrespectful to Chris Chavez, the subject of the bas relief memorial pictured above. Apologies for not taking a current photo showing the area around this sculpture/memorial, but even back when the little spur to Broadway did run next to the memorial, the scene, sculpture aside, was anything but pretty:
Thus, Better Burque has made extending South Diversion Channel/Chris Chavez Trail north its 2018 New Year’s Resolution. Three things to keep in mind:
- Unlike almost all such resolutions, we’re keeping this one;
- This is a project that might require it also being our 2019 and 2020 resolution. It’s going to take some time.
- It’s not going to happen without your help. And by “you,” we mean many people from many positions/constituencies of the community. Certain City/County public officials: We need you. Walking and cycling advocates: We gotta have ya. City/County/AMAFCA bureaucrats (and we use that word very, very lovingly): You are, as always, absolutely essential.
So let’s get to work. And let’s not have this resolution end up like 99.9% of Scot’s involving losing weight and slowing down on the beer. This one really needs to happen. This one will happen.