Construction on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus project began on Central Avenue in earnest a few weeks ago, and the results are not pretty — several businesses are reporting as much as a 30 percent drop in revenue.
KOAT-TV cited the 30-percent figure during a recent story about the project along the city’s Route 66 corridor.
Gabriel Amador, owner of Amore Neapolitan Pizzeria, said the detour signs are confusing or inadequate for drivers.
The operators of Garcia’s Kitchen have resorted to erecting their own directional signs to make it easier for customers to turn into their lot.
The owners of the landmark Frontier Restaurant and Golden Pride restaurant also reported in a scathing letter to the editor to the Albuquerque Journal some businesses along Central Avenue are reporting as much as a 30 percent drop in revenue, with 15 percent to 20 percent drop-offs common.
As a result, employees that have quit are not being replaced.
Even the business at our Frontier Restaurant is down due to the destruction of Route 66 to the east and west. As a result, we have had to shorten employees’ hours.
The letter also states worries over the long-term effect of ART:
The ART project will permanently reduce Central to one lane through Nob Hill as well as west of University to I-25. This will negatively affect accessibility to the businesses along Central.
People do not have time to sit in traffic. The inconvenience will cause them to take their business elsewhere. Two lanes of traffic east and west are necessary for businesses to survive and grow on Central.
The elimination of two lanes will permanently devastate the businesses on Central.
The idea behind ART — which carves out two dedicated bus lanes along nine miles of Central Avenue — is to make Albuquerque more attractive to millennial workers and cutting-edge companies.
On Feb. 9, the Federal Transit Administration announced it would recommend awarding a $69 million grant for the $119 million project. The city says the FTA never has refused funding for such a project.
More than 11 months later, the grant still hasn’t arrived. Congress still hasn’t approved a budget for the grant, and there’s no telling whether President-elect Donald Trump would support such a grant, anyway. No one seems to know what will happen to ART if the grant money simply doesn’t come.