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Route 66 News

Albuquerque Rapid Transit foes drop lawsuit against it

Opponents of the ongoing Albuquerque Rapid Transit project along Central Avenue (aka Route 66) this week dropped a lawsuit that sought to stop the construction.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stop construction after a lower court ruled the project could proceed.

The Albuquerque Journal reported:

Yolanda Gallegos, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, said that although Tuesday’s filing brings an end to the litigation against ART, her clients will still try to correct problems they see with the project. A number of people, businesses and community groups had brought the lawsuit seeking to stop ART.

Gallegos said her clients still had great concerns about congestion, safety, how the project will affect businesses and funding for construction and operation of the transportation system.

The project aims to dedicate two lanes for transit buses and stations along nine miles of Central Avenue. Construction began in October; the work is expected to take nearly a year.

The Journal earlier in the week published a story about the effect of ART construction on Central Avenue businesses. As you might expect, many businesses reported a sizable drop in revenues because of the road-construction hassles and the resultant drop in traffic. An ART spokeswoman acknowledged sales drops of 25 to 40 percent.

But a few businesses also have reported stable or even rising sales revenue since the ART project began, along with new stores, restaurants and housing developments rising along the corridor. A few businesses took advantage of a city program to help publicize their places to good effect. A few businesses also banded together help each other during the project.

In other developments:

— The Journal reported detains remain unclear about the city’s upcoming bridge-loan program for businesses affected by ART construction. The city is supposed to begin issuing loans next month.

KRQE-TV reported a clever vandal altered one of the construction signs in the ART zone from “utility work ahead” to “futility work ahead.”

— More than a year after the Federal Transportation Administration announced it would authorize a $69 million grant to cover much of the $119 million project, the city of Albuquerque still hasn’t received the money. It requires an act of Congress to allocate the funds. It remains uncertain what will happen to ART if Albuquerque doesn’t get the money.

(Screen capture image of ART construction from Albuquerque Journal video)

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4 thoughts on “Albuquerque Rapid Transit foes drop lawsuit against it

  1. Eric Hayman

    “More than a year after the Federal Transportation Administration announced it would authorize a $69 million grant to cover much of the $119 million project, the city of Albuquerque still hasn’t received the money. It requires an act of Congress to allocate the funds. It remains uncertain what will happen to ART if Albuquerque doesn’t get the money.

    Whatever happened to joined up thinking? Do you blame this delay on the change of president, or Albuquerque being so far away from Washington that few senators have heard of it.

    Also, how many buses per hour will be using the bus lanes? Especially at night time? In the UK we have 24 hour bus lanes, with none using them from midnight to 5 am, and very few during the evening.

    This also reminds me of roads in London reduced to one lane each way to provide very lightly used cycle lanes.

    1. Ron Warnick Post author

      The delay now has encompassed two presidents. If there is any one party to blame, it’s probably the Congress, which has been one of the least-productive Congresses in terms of passing legislation for several years now. The fact ART has become radioactive in many circles in Albuquerque doesn’t help its chances.

  2. Eric Hayman

    Thanks, Ron. With so many people against ART, who is for it? Whose idea was it? The citizens of Albuquerque, or the people they elected to do things in their name?

    1. Ron Warnick Post author

      The mayor, Richard Berry, led the effort, and he got enough of a cross-section of city councilors to sign off on the project. They used a study that suggested a more vigorous mass-transit system would draw more millennials and high-tech companies to Albuquerque, although whether the city’s density is high enough to support such a system remains questionable.

      Enough people and companies believe in the study support ART, although since the project began, I suspect support has dropped. In the end, we don’t really know what will happen when ART is finished. Berry’s prediction of an influx of younger residents and more high-tech companies may happen, or it may be deemed a failure and the system radically adjusted.

      Word on the street is Berry is going to run for governor. He has a tough road if ART remains even relatively unpopular. Without Albuquerque support, a gubernatorial candidate’s chances of winning the state are slim. Not impossible, but slim.

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