Rail Trail Thoughts for DAN: Director’s Cut

The hard-working, kind folks at The Downtown Albuquerque News (Subscribe today! Here’s a free weekly edition to get you hooked.) recently opened the virtual floor for comments on the proposed, sizably funded “Albuquerque Rail Trail” project. Your humble blogger added to the sizable pile o’ folks commenting thus, but there wasn’t room for the entirety of my verbosity thoughts.

So here’s the longer version along with a very nice DAN screengrab with arrow for heuristic purposes. Enjoy!

Regarding the Rail Trail,  I love it as an attempt to, for ABQ, rather grandly offer a generally car/driver-free means to get to/through downtown, Wells Park,  Sawmill, the Bosque, etc. The word “attempt” is working pretty hard in the prior sentence because having $30 million or so for this project doesn’t mean it’s gonna get done to nearly the extent envisioned.

I don’t want to focus on the many obstacles, but anytime BNSF and it’s “25-foot from middle of track” mantra comes up,  that historically has been a huge obstacle (e.g., trying to make the tracks running through El Pueblo Rd. alongside Paseo del Norte safe for cyclists). Nevertheless, focusing on candle instead of darkness, and taking the grand sweep down to a something more bite-size, let me just focus on what’s already been done, the crossing at Marquette, and how everyone, particularly cyclists might better make it around the Convention Center north to that Marquette crossing.

In short, and as one who currently bike commutes using this route, ideally we would blow up the Convention Center and start again from scratch, running the Rail Trail at/near the tracks through the smoking rubble. That’s probably not gonna happen, so I propose we use 2nd St. instead of 1st in this stretch, set up a curb-protected two-way walk/cycle track along the east side of 2nd, narrow the driving lanes on 2nd enough for this (yeah, buses can get by with 10.5 ft. driving lanes), and then formalize what is now a funky little notch at the north side of 2nd & Marquette (alongside the overpass) that allows walker/rollers to get to that Marquette crossing car-free. I wish this response format allowed for .jpgs so I could show a Streetview screen-grab of the funky notch. It’s funky.

Ask and the hard-working, kind folks at The DAN deliver! Just out of shot under Marquette overpass is the at-grade track crossing.

I’ll leave it to others on whether we’d go from there north via/near 1st St. (which is what I do on my commute) or right alongside the tracks from the Marquette crossing north. It is, after all, a “Rail Trail,” but will point out that 1st St. between Marquette and and Lomas has nearly zero car traffic, desperately needs repaving, and is as wide as an airport runway. There’s plenty of room to put a curb-protected two-way walk/cycle track on 1st from Marquette to Lomas.

At Lomas and points north, well…there be dragons, as the cartographers used to say.  I remember an earlier iteration of the proposed Rail Trail before the influx o’ cash had the Trail pretty much ending at 1st and Lomas. And while it’s funny to consider a “Rail Trail” ending with folks dumped at the intersection of 1st and Lomas, it also kinda points out the difficulties from that point north, influx o’ cash or no.

So I’m gonna leave that for others and just stick to the relatively small scope of the proposal outlined. Thanks for providing this venue for input and everything you folks do at The DAN.

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