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Building Bike Connections at Journal Center

Journal Center is one of the core employment centers in the Albuquerque metro area. It is not only one of the biggest employment centers in the state, but it is also growing at a rapid rate. As with many office parks developed in the past few decades, it is very car oriented. It is only served by a couple but routes and it is not well connected to the city bike network.

One advantage Journal Center has is that it could very easily be integrated with the city bike network. What is the major barrier that has prevented these connections from occurring?

I-25.

Many bike routes and trails from the Northeast Heights terminate on the east side of I-25. Currently, the northernmost bike trail access from the east side of the freeway to the west side occurs at the North Diversion Channel Trail underpass, just south of Montgomery. This means that for anyone who lives north of Montgomery and east of I-25, there is no easy way to bike to Journal Center (or anything west of the freeway). There are 3 places where a crossing would be viable.

1. Bear Canyon Arroyo-Osuna/Brentwood: This location may the most viable for a number of reasons. The current bike access in this area consists of a trail spur off of the North Diversion Channel trail on the west side of the freeway and a marked bike lanes on the east side on Osuna. One reason this section would be viable as a crossing point is the spur off of the North Diversion Trail (labeled Bear Canyon Arroyo Trail West on the CABQ Interactive Bike Map) goes all the way to frontage road of the highway. This means that no new right of ways or trail construction would need to occur on the west side of the freeway.

On the east side, there would be a few issues to sort out. All the land on the other side appears to be privately owned, but much of this land is currently underutilized parking lots. If the city acquired a small strip of land, they could easily connect the crossing with Osuna. The reason for this easy connection is a small cul-de-sac called Brentwood Ln. NE. This is a short, low-traffic commercial access street that would be ideal as a bike route. If this plan was used, the city should work on making the bike lanes on Osuna extend all the way to the intersection, along with making the Brentwood/Osuna intersection safe for cyclists (using bulb-outs, speed bumps, etc.).

Another reason this would be a good route is because of the recent completion of the Academy Rd. bike lanes. There are now many ways for bike riders in this area to get to the freeway. Now the city must focus on getting them over the freeway.

2. Pino Trail-San Antonio/Ellison: The Pino Trail currently traverses a large part of the Heights and then terminates at I-25. This is one of the primary reasons this would be a great crossing point. One of the drawbacks is the lack of infrastructure on the west side of the freeway. The city would have to build new trail in order to connect the path with the bike lanes on this segment of Jefferson. Ideally, the trail should be extended all the way to the North Diversion Channel, which would require even more new trail construction.

One of the major advantages of putting a crossing on this route is that the existing Pino Trail is one consistent route from Eubank to I-25. This is significant because a crossing at this point would connect a large number of Heights residents with Journal Center.

3. South Domingo Baca Trail-Paseo del Norte/Lang Ave: The situation at this potential crossing point is similar to the situation of the Pino Trail: a long trail that goes through much of the Heights and no existing infrastructure on the west side of the freeway.

One advantage of this route would be the ability to connect this route with the Paseo del Norte trail. This trail currently parallels Paseo from the Diversion Channel to Coors on the other side of the Rio Grande. If an overpass was built on this part of the freeway, a trail could be paved along El Pueblo Rd. from the Diversion Channel to Jefferson. There is already a bridge crossing the Diversion Channel next to El Pueblo Rd. From Jefferson, the Lang/Jefferson crossing would have to be improved (signaled crosswalk, “Watch for Bike” signs, etc.). Lang could be designated a bike-friendly street for it’s entire length.

A disadvantage of this route is the fact that this large amount of infrastructure would need to be built in order to properly connect this crossing to the network.

At this juncture, I think very high priority must be put on these crossings. If these crossing are not built, Journal Center will continue to be extremely car oriented. This would be unfortunate because this area has potential to be a nexus of bike commuting.

The 2 most viable options at the point would probably be routes 1 and 2. The Pino Trail especially has a lot of potential to add a large amount of bike commuters.

Let’s Review:

More bike overpasses must be built over N. I-25.

This would connect North East Heights residents with a major growing employment area: Journal Center.

Two crossing are very viable: San Antonio/Pino Trail and Osuna/Bear Canyon Trail.

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