EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Alameda Avenue, a 13-mile stretch of road that starts near Downtown El Paso and turns into the Mission Trail, remains the home of countless local businesses, both operating out of permanent locations and from mobile kitchens.
The storied street is also where El Pasoans and visitors can see a reflection of culture, language, art and life in this border city. And, some now ponder what the next decade could look like for the state highway as the city of El Paso is set to host a town hall asking residents to “re-envision” the corridor.
Roberto “Bobby” Bustamante, who worked with the county for more than 30 years in roads and bridges, agrees that Alameda needs beautifications.
Bustamante, who has lived in his home on Romeria Drive near Alameda for more than 40 years, said the street could use improvements to uplift businesses and have better mitigations to improve traffic flow. Inlets and outlets into the stores would also make the areas more welcoming for guests, he added.
He said that the state highway has changed over the last few decades and improvements need to be made to modernize it.
“Alameda is not where you go 30-miles-per-hour anymore,” he said. “Everybody wants to beat everybody. It’s more like a highway and we’re in an urban area, which has grown immensely.”
The city is looking for input in the “Onward Alameda” project. It is a comprehensive corridor study and master plan that will help establish long-term visions for the future of the street and how it may change in the near future. The plan is to make changes from downtown to Socorro.
“Creating a new successful plan and vision that meets the community’s needs requires participation and ideas from as many members of the community as possible, so we’re asking everyone to please join us so that your voice is heard,” said City Engineer Sam Rodriguez. “The Alameda Corridor has historically been one of the integral corridors for the mobility and expansion of the El Paso community.”
A lot has changed on Alameda since Bustamante first moved into his Lower Valley residence. Like many residents, Bustamante wants to see the street’s surface fixed and better traffic areas. But also like his neighbors, he wants to see improvements in what is offered along the street. He mentioned that he’d like to see a fairgrounds or an area where residents can gather and celebrate the community.
“Like, for example, we lost the Bronco Swap,” he said. “People would go out there just to walk. Meet with friends, have a churro, a burrito. And, you could see what’s for sale or talk to the vendors. It was like a getaway for the people coming to Alameda.”
Fabiola Campos Lopez, president of the Corridor 20 Civic Association, said she is glad a study is being explored to enhance Alameda. And, it is not often the street that gets attention, she added.
Campos said she would like to see sidewalks built where they are missing and to see existing ones redone and widened. The street should also have resting areas along the sidewalk in case individuals want to walk along Alameda.
She said parking should also be expanded near commercial areas to make it safer. The highway could also use better stormwater infrastructure and crosswalks to help make it more walkable.
“Try to think on how to slow traffic,” she said. “It could be roundabouts, it could be calming speed bumps or more lights. But, they might have to find a way to make it say for everyone,” she said.
Future discussions may gravitate around how to ensure improvements won’t mean an increase in the cost of living for residents living nearby. And, some residents are pondering what the future of car lots along Alameda will be.
That discourse may come during the town hall scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 26. Residents will be able to join via a Zoom link posted on the city’s website to make their input.
District 3 City Rep. Cassandra Hernandez, who represents part of the city that includes Alameda, said there are opportunities to improve the highway and address development needs.
“The money for the master planning is separate from the Texas Department of Transportation, we work in tandem with their master planning of the roadway with TxDOT,” Hernandez said. “The City Council adopted a capital improvement plan that included planning documents for major corridors throughout El Paso. Alameda was part of one of the streets that were selected to be master-planned.”
Hernandez said residents living near Alameda consider the roadway a priority and have called on elected officials to improve it.
“The Alameda corridor is more than just a street: there are roadways, sidewalks, right-of-ways, landscape buffers, vacant and rezoning opportunities,” she said. “We want to have a discussion about how future development will occur along the corridor, how to encourage housing, retail and grocery stores to ensure a diversified business market.”