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Albuquerque Rapid Transit

New Mexico in Focus takes a deep dive this week into the issues behind the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. The city received a federal grant to build a rapid transit system down Central Avenue but the project faces fierce opposition from some landlords and business owners along the proposed route. Advocates say the project will bring more business activity to Central avenue but opponents argue it will increase traffic congestion and drive out local businesses that are already struggling to survive. A lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing before a federal judge this week.

ART Project Design from Two Hundred on Vimeo.


Advocates want to halt construction to consider issues of environmental impact and historic preservation along Route 66. An engineering professor says the traffic studies used by the city are flawed and the project would actually increase congestion. Other opponents say there was not meaningful input on the project, including the design and the selection of the route. Supporters of the project say it will improve transit here because it will make it more reliable through signal control that creates regularly scheduled stops. (Riders now complain of delays and long waiting periods) And supporters also say it will foster transit-oriented development that will bring more economic development to the corridor by attracting more investment. They point to Cleveland and Phoenix as examples where this has happened.

We will talk with Chief Operating Officer for the City of Albuquerque Michael Riordan about these issues. We’ll also hear from business owners Jean Bernstein of Flying Star, who opposes it, and Keith West of Urban Fresh, who supports it and started a boycott of businesses that OPPOSE it. We’ll also have Susan Deischel from Urban ABQ, which advocates for a more bikeable and walkable city and supports ART. And we’ll have John Hooker, former mayor of Los Ranchos who has a long background in project management and architecture. He’s critical of the plan and how the city has moved to implement it. He sees a lack of planning that would make it more successful and also feels Lomas might have been a better option for the route.

Episode airs Friday, July 29 at 7pm on New Mexico PBS ch.5.1.

Previous A.R.T Coverage:

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