Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Editorial: ABQ needs to clean up its paths and trails now

It is a shocking reality in a city that prides itself on its bike paths and trails.

Many are dirty, dangerous, “indescribably filthy.” And expecting residents and visitors to wait months or years for the next big capital project to clean them up and make them safe should be a non-starter.

Downtown, where the city has invested money trying to make the area a liveable, attractive center of the city, the conditions of the Central Avenue underpass just east of First Street are simply inexcusable.

Elijah Esquivel says he often sees trash, feces and people using drugs. On Dec 31, “It was pitch-black in there and was the biggest I’ve ever seen it. You had to walk around trash and puddles everywhere, it smelled absolutely terrible and the three people openly doing meth didn’t even notice us.”

The city spent $400,000 in 2019, purportedly on unbreakable lighting, as well as noise reduction for the path. In the coming weeks, it will pour another $60,000 into new allegedly unbreakable lights, as well as piping in music as some businesses are using to deter loitering.

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In the Heights, an example is the multi-use trail next to Interstate 40 between Tramway and Los Altos Golf Course. Residents have reported graffiti, trash, weeds and vandalism along the route. One reader shared “what was once a commuter trail for UNM students and hospital staff adjacent to University Boulevard has instead become a pathway for narcotics trafficking and human trafficking.”

And there’s the I-40 underpasses at First and Second, where, a reader says, “sidewalks are completely blocked and much of the roadway contains property belonging to the (unhoused). … The situation really needs to be addressed.”

It does — sooner rather than later. While the mayoral administration says the real fix to the Central underpass could be in its trumpeted Rail Trail project, that’s one spot and likely years away.

Until then, residents and visitors deserve better. If it takes more patrols from the Community Safety Department and Police Service Aides, so be it. Albuquerque claims it’s a bike/pedestrian-friendly city. It’s time to walk that talk.

This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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