The Paseo del Norte corridor is one of the most heavily utilized river crossings in the Albuquerque metropolitan area. In 2010, Paseo del Norte carried 81,800 vehicles per day, and models project that demand on this route will increase to approximately 180,000 vehicles per day within the next 20 years.
MRCOG’s socioeconomic forecasts indicate the underlying reasons for this dramatic increase: more than half of all residential growth projected in the three-county metropolitan area is anticipated to occur on Albuquerque’s Westside, while employment will remain concentrated on Albuquerque’s Eastside. As one of several potential measures to mitigate this imbalance, the Paseo del Norte High Capacity Transit Study (HCTS) identifies how public transit can provide an alternative to single-occupancy vehicle travel by satisfying some of the demand for trips across the Rio Grande that connect Westside homes to Eastside employment and activity centers.
The Paseo del Norte High Capacity Transit Study Alternatives Analysis Report describes a recommended Locally Preferred Alternative that would connect Albuquerque’s Westside to the North I-25 Corridor and UNM and CNM area utilizing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
The Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) travels south on Unser Blvd. to Paseo del Norte and continues east on Paseo del Norte until reaching Jefferson St. and the North I-25 corridor. The route then turns south on Jefferson St. before continuing to UNM and CNM via I-25 frontage roads and University Blvd.
The LPA initially provides bus service accompanied by park and ride facilities, queue jump lanes, and other enhancements. At build-out, the service transitions to BRT and includes dedicated bus lanes along Paseo del Norte, articulated buses, stations that provide for level boarding, off-vehicle fare collection and other rider amenities that improve security, comfort and travel time. Hours of operation and frequency of service would likewise expand in order to provide a more attractive service that responds to the anticipated demand and operating revenues. The HCTS report presents concepts of how the construction and operation of the service could be funded and implemented in concert with other regionally-significant transportation projects.
The prospect of BRT as presented in the HCTS report complements two other advancing projects, ABQ Ride’s implementation of BRT along the Central Ave. corridor and Rio Metro Regional Transit District’s continued study and design of BRT along University and Yale Boulevards that would serve UNM, CNM and the Sunport. Together, these three projects comprise a future BRT network that aims to improve the frequency, capacity and quality of the region’s transit services, mitigate congestion and reduce parking demand.
While the Central Ave. and UNM/CNM BRT projects have been prioritized by Rio Metro’s Board of Directors, the HCTS report details the Paseo del Norte BRT project’s next steps, which include:
Paseo del Norte @ Rio Grande bridge
Jefferson @ Masthead
Transit Boulevard - Volcano Heights
Paseo del Norte @ Eagle Ranch