New Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller proclaimed Thursday that major construction along Central Avenue for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project was finished, and businesses along that Route 66 corridor could breathe a sigh of relief.
However, major issues remain along the troubled nine-mile bus system, with no quick resolution in sight.
The Albuquerque Journal reported:
During a gathering in front of Duran’s Central Pharmacy, Keller exclaimed that Central Avenue is open for business and encouraged residents to shop and eat at local businesses in their neighborhoods.
“Route 66 through our town is still thriving,” Keller said of the historic avenue. “There are lots of good places to shop and eat. It’s home to a lot of businesses and professional services that are along Route 66. I want to remind folks, especially with the weather getting warmer, that Central is open for business.”
Despite the rosy proclamation, it was Keller who also said ART was “a bit of a lemon” shortly after taking office.
ART was beset by poorly designed stations, ongoing problems with its electric buses, months of construction that hampered businesses along Central Avenue and a $75 million federal grant that still hasn’t arrived more than a year after its announcement.
The lack of buses continues to be a problem in the Duke City.
Manufactured by Build Your Dreams bus company, 20 fully electric, 60-foot articulated buses worth nearly $23 million were originally scheduled for delivery last October.
Of the 16 buses received, the city has identified multiple problems, including cracked panels and leaking axle hubs.
Keller said city officials have called the bus company weekly to see when the problems can be fixed. He said he hopes to have more information in two weeks.
ART also is being investigated by the city’s inspector general and the state auditor.
(Screen-capture image of an Albuquerque Rapid Transit sign in Albuquerque)