Big Dig at the Corner of 4th Street and Coal Avenue

Silly us, BB didn’t get a photo as we rode through the intersection of 4th St. S.W. and Coal Avenue yesterday. Basically, this dirt lot at the SW corner of the intersection:

4th and coal
And yes, we include the old King’s Table Buffet sign across the street, because it is so cool

is now a giant hole of constructiony goodness.

What is it, you might ask? If you haven’t followed the multi-decade saga of this now big hole in the ground, the City of Albuquerque bought the lot back in 1994. Yes, that’s 24 years ago. The City has ever since, off and on, been trying to find the right development project for the site to serve as a commercial entree at the northern end of Barelas.

Plans were unveiled in 2014, finally, for a “central market” (i.e., not a grocery store) at the site in a mixed-use facility with apartments other retail. The City put out a Design-Build RFP in January of 2014.

Then things kinda slowed down. Again.

About eighteen months ago, followers of things transportation learned that the development was still “on” in some fashion, and that the finished project could indirectly mean big changes for both Coal, and Lead, Avenue between 2nd and 8th. Plans were unveiled to implement parking-protected bike lanes as part of an overall street redesign:

coal parking protected
You might need to blow this up to about 300% to fully see the parking-protected treatment included

Then things died down again. As they periodically have for 24 years.

But now we have a big hole in the ground, and while BB doesn’t know exactly what is going on (Hint: This is where somebody out there who does know tells us.), we can report that there is a big hole in the ground at the SW corner of 4th St. S.W. and Coal Avenue. Notably, construction crews are to be commended for including a very nicely separated bike/ped “lane” (also not pictured because we’re silly that way) keeping them safe during the dig.

Focusing on the transportation side of things, BB also doesn’t know if the 2016 plans are still in play as part of this project. Fingers are crossed, particularly given the City has just lost, at least temporarily, its only protected bike lanes in town further up 4th Street. Sure would be nice to hear more about this aspect of the big hole in the ground, especially if the news was good.

Hint, hint, hint…

Meanwhile, entering what appears to be, hopefully, the denouement of the 24-year-long saga to turn the SW corner of 4th and Coal into something other than a dirt lot is a great example of the need for patience, persistence, and perseverance when it comes to anything involving change and improvements, transportation issues very much included.

So we in the bicycle advocacy community will patiently wait to hear more of what’s to come for Lead and Coal from 2nd to 8th, won’t we? Won’t we?

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