Further Reflections on the “Inevitable” South Diversion Channel Extension

By Scot

In case you missed it yesterday, John posted a few words and some fabulous photos reviewing our adventurous traverse of Albuquerque’s “Southeast Passage,” i.e., the South Diversion Channel from Rio Bravo north and northeast under I-25 and Gibson Blvd., across Cesar Chavez Blvd., and, ultimately, to the “headwaters” of the SDC at the south end of the APS complex.

As John rightly points out, the route at present takes one very much into the Channel floor itself, i.e., the “ditch,” and is therefore “deadly.” As a long-term non-motorized method of safely crossing I-25, Gibson, etc., the SDC needs a wee bit of work. Roughly $8 million of wee bit according to the just about finalized “Near South Valley Multimodal Study.”

While my photog skills aren’t anywhere near John’s, here’s a vista of what we’re up against when talking SDC extension:


Yeah, I’m no Ansel Adams or Dorothea Lange. Still, you might be able to spot the three vents (black squares) of the SDC under I-25. Here’s a far better shot of your humble blogposter careening down toward the mouth of the vents, as there’s no other option to cross under the highway:

SE Passage 1

Of course, with some portage, there’s probably a route to go directly across I-25, and it’s interesting to consider the relative insanity of doing so, versus picking up a bit of mud using the method illustrated above. I-25 really is a “border wall.” 

Plus the artwork is so much better down here than the billboards above ground.

So, how do we make a SDC extension happen? One wrinkle in crafting an extension is the multitude of similarly problematic alternatives. As shown below in an illustration from the 2016 I-25 South Corridor Study (as taken from the 2040 Long Range Bikeway System Map), long-term plans call for several multi-use tributaries along and from the SDC main channel:

sdc 25 study

Let’s see, we’ve got:

  • A proposed “Railroad Underpass” that gets us just east of I-25;
  • A “proposed Overpass/Underpass” roughly halfway between an extended Sunport Blvd. and Gibson Blvd., with a second overpass/underpass proposed at Gibson; from there,
  • We have options for a multi-use path alongside Gibson, including
    • A northeast route following one SDC tributary to University north of Gibson,
    • And a more northerly follow of the main SDC channel alongside I-25 and around the Motel 6 at Cesar Chavez Blvd. on to the SDC “headwaters” at APS Complex.

To quote Slim Pickens’ character in “Dr. Strangelove,” a “fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas” with all these non-motorized options. Perhaps it’s my innate cynicism, but this humble blogposter is somewhat doubtful that each and every one of these options will come to fruition. In fact, looking at this map makes this admitted curmudgeon wonder if such a plethora of options doesn’t reflect a lack of confidence in actually constructing any of the options.

And looking at another photo John took yesterday of me at the eastern mouth of the I-25 underpass only increases that wonder:

SE Passage 4

One further factoid furrowing the SDC advocate brow is that the aforementioned I-25 South Corridor Study makes absolutely zero mention of spending dollar one on any bike/ped bridges/underpasses. This in a 199-page document that goes into extreme detail regarding each and every motorized exit, on-off ramp, etc. along the entire corridor.

Nevertheless, the SDC extension is going to happen.

This cynical curmudgeon thinks knows we can overcome the many obstacles. Riding yesterday, this knowledge most came to me as we approached the nasty bit of roadway known as Gibson Blvd. Being able to circumvent the Gibson deathtrap by going into the “deadly ditch” was so incredibly liberating. It actually elicited a sort of religious “saved” sensation for your humble blogposter. I am not kidding.

Perhaps the best way to make sure a SDC extension becomes reality would be to have *every cyclist complete the SDC trek John and I undertook yesterday. Thousands of Burque cyclists getting SDC religion through a visit to the I-25/Gibson “revival tent” would be a powerful, powerful advocacy force moving forward.

And somebody, or some assortment of governmental entities, “tithing” $8 million couldn’t hurt, either.  Please pass the collection plate to your right, everyone…



*With the required liability caveat that “ditches are deadly” and this is a very terrible idea.

One thought on “Further Reflections on the “Inevitable” South Diversion Channel Extension

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