• Marquette rail crossing breaks ground as city moves toward thorough study of 8-mile loop trail
  • How we voted: The stadium and mayor's race, precinct by precinct
Marquette rail crossing breaks ground as city moves toward thorough study of 8-mile loop trail
TOP: An artist's rendering of the finished crossing. BOTTOM: Participants in yesterday's ceremonial ground-breaking included Mayor Tim Keller (third from left), City Councilor Isaac Benton (fourth from left) and Carlos Garcia (second from right), the prominent Downtown property owner whose holdings include Glorieta Station, the future Neon Park, and the former Skip Maisel's Indian Jewelry.
A long-delayed project to connect two sides of Marquette that have been separated by a fence and the railroad tracks for decades (map) got underway yesterday with city officials pitching the move as a kind of homecoming.

The area "is just not part of Downtown or part of our community in a pedestrian-accessible sense," Mayor Tim Keller told reporters. "This is us knocking down that proverbial wall while reuniting communities and setting the stage for a much more vibrant Downtown."

The project, which is slated to wrap up next spring, will build both a road and sidewalks across the tracks, but the present layout of the street network in the area likely means it will never be a busy automotive thoroughfare along the lines of Tijeras or Lomas. Instead, the emphasis seems to be on reducing the time pedestrians and bicyclists would have to spend traveling between - for example - the convention center and Villa Myriam Coffee Roasters, a trip that is presently a very indirect route.

Both sides of the tracks, meanwhile, feature multiple office buildings and a host of planned attractions, including Neon Park, a collection of signs and Route 66 memorabilia in development by Carlos and Ed Garcia. The city is also working with the developer Zydeco 66 on a hotel project near the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King and Broadway (DAN, 6/1/21).

"I think it opens up a whole new world for tourism but also our sense of cultural pride in who we are," City Councilor Isaac Benton said.

The crossing is also a key intersection for the rail trail project, the first major phase of which will run between Lomas and the Rail Yards, where crews are already building a short segment as part of a larger landscaping effort.

The city will release a detailed plan for the Lomas-Rail Yards section, complete with cost estimates, in the next few weeks, Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency Manager Karen Iverson said. It has thus far raised $5 million for that work and hopes to bolster the war chest with federal grants and appropriations from the next legislative session before heading into construction, she added.

Longer-term plans call for expanding the trail north to Wells Park along the rail spur and eventually to Sawmill, where pedestrians and bicyclists could be routed toward the bosque trail. Some sort of connection between the Rail Yards and the bosque trail across Barelas would complete the roughly eight-mile loop.

The city has previously studied the options for the Lomas-Sawmill segment, but Iverson said it is applying for grants to also study the entire loop as a whole, a project slated for 2022.
Downtown area voters said no to the stadium, but not quite as loudly as in other parts of town
The soccer stadium went down to resounding defeat in the latest municipal election, but while greater Downtown was no exception, it did on average perform a bit better here.

Citywide, the proposal garnered only 35 percent of the vote, but in Downtown area precincts, it got 39 percent, losing in every precinct except one (104) near Broadway and César Chávez, where it tied 26-26.

More notable is where exactly it performed the least badly. It cleared the 40 percent mark in 11 precincts, and eight of them were reasonably close to the proposed stadium sites in Barelas and South Broadway:
Green: Over 40 percent in favor of the stadium. Red: Less than 30 percent in favor.
But the precinct that was home to the proposed site at Coal and Broadway (225) proved to be the stadium's biggest critic in greater Downtown, awarding it just 18.6 percent of its votes to the effort. The precinct covering the Second and Iron stadium site (133), meanwhile, voted for it with only 32.4 percent - three points under the citywide average.

Full precinct results are here. You can look up your precinct on our map.
Keller handily won reelection, but greater Downtown gave him an extra boost
Following a well-worn trail of Democratic candidates before him (DAN, 11/24/20), Mayor Tim Keller easily won every single Downtown area precinct in the municipal election that concluded November 2.

Citywide, he took 56 percent of the vote, but in greater Downtown, that represented his floor. He won the seven precincts shaded in green below with over 80 percent:
The South Broadway precinct at the bottom of the map (104, where the stadium tied) gave him 90 percent. In his own home precinct, which surrounds the Albuquerque Country Club, he had to settle for a mere 76 percent.

Keller's performance was weakest around the I-40 corridor, where these eight precincts shaded in red gave him less than 70 percent:
He performed worst (57 percent) in precinct 161, which straddles I-40 and covers parts of Wells Park, Sawmill, and the Near North Valley. It was also President Joe Biden's worst-performing precinct in greater Downtown, giving him "only" 67 percent of the vote in 2020, and the only precinct in the 2019 municipal election where City Council candidate Connie Vigil beat incumbent Isaac Benton (she ultimately placed fourth in a six-person race).

Full precinct results are here. You can look up your precinct on our map.
Downtown Albuquerque News covers greater Downtown, which we generally define as the area created by I-40, the Rio Grande, and the railroad tracks. We publish weekdays except for federal holidays. If someone forwarded DAN to you, please consider subscribing. To subscribe, contact us, submit a letter to the editor, or learn more about what we do, click here. If you ever run into technical trouble receiving DAN, click here.
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