West Central Avenue Corridor Study
In 2002, the City of Albuquerque adopted R-02-24 Central Avenue Streetscape Master Plan, a “blueprint” to guide the redevelopment of Central Avenue from 8th St. to the top of Nine Mile Hill.
Objectives of the Central Avenue improvements within the public right-of-way are:
- To create a safe and comfortable environment for pedestrians along this high traffic volume street.
- To improve the appearance of Central Avenue throughout the area.
- To improve the safety of Central Avenue through better traffic signals, signs, and facilities.
To achieve these objectives, the plan calls for a 1-year test of the 3-lane cross section of Central from 8th to Rancho Seco, with on-street parking where possible and bike lanes. The design is intended to slow, but not reduce, vehicular traffic, increase pedestrian comfort, and encourage small business redevelopment along this portion of Central Avenue.
Since the plan was adopted, the City has continued to receive complaints from neighbors and businesses along this critical stretch of Central that connects downtown to Old Town. The roadway currently serves only speeding motorists and fails to accommodate other taxpayers and roadway users such as pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit riders.
In 2008, a consultant was hired to develop a concept plan for West Central, including short-term and long-term design concepts for the 3-lane configuration from 8th St. to Rancho Seco. There currently exists significant excess vehicular capacity on this stretch of roadway, and three separate analyses indicate that current and future (2035) traffic volumes can be accommodated within a 3-lane cross section while maintaining acceptable levels of service per traffic standards. Jim Daisa, one of the nation’s leading transportation, planning, and engineering experts; who wrote the manual on creating walkable urban thoroughfares, is responsible for the analysis and concept plan on which this project is based.
The Lomas-Central intersection is not included in the lane reduction area but is part of the larger project scope. The reason back-ups occur on Central, especially for evening rush hour west-bound drivers, is not lack of capacity; it is due to the irregular configuration of the Lomas-Central intersection that results in inefficient processing of evening peak vehicular traffic. A critical component of this same project is to redesign and reconstruct the Central-Lomas intersection in order to create a conventional four-way intersection that will process traffic much more efficiently. The project will ultimately add capacity through reconfiguration of one of the city’s most critical, failing intersections.
The City engaged in a two-year public involvement process with property owners along the corridor and residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the corridor (2008-2010).
Striping of the one-year “demonstration,” or pilot, project occurred in early spring of 2011. The demonstration project is comparable to the restriping of Lead and Coal, changing the lane configuration without making major infrastructure changes such as widening sidewalks and relocating curb and gutter. Central between 8th St. and Rancho Seco will be restriped to 3 lanes, one in each direction with a center turn lane. Bike lanes will be added, along with on-street parking where possible.
Detailed monitoring of the project included data gathering and surveys before striping occurred, and quarterly during the one-year demonstration period. Additional public meetings are being held to present the results of the monitoring and to solicit feedback from businesses, residents, and commuters.
The detailed monitoring program will include:
- Speed surveys
- Intersection queuing (level of service analysis) at key intersections
- Traffic, pedestrian, bicycle counts
- Travel time run
- Transit surveys
- Stakeholder interviews
Based on the level of success of the pilot, permanent changes will be engineered and built based on the Concept Plan’s “ultimate street layout” design.
What the project adds (ultimate layout):
- Wider sidewalks to serve residents, tourists
- Street trees
- On-street parking to serve a redeveloping business corridor (pilot and ultimate)
- Bike lanes (pilot and ultimate)
- Pedestrian refuges (i.e. safe crossing locations for pedestrians)
- Opportunities for enhanced bus stop facilities
- Bulb-outs at intersections to decrease pedestrian crossing distances
What the project removes (pilot and ultimate layout):
- Existing speeding problem
- One travel lane in each direction without decreasing capacity