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Op-ed: Rapid Transit Chaos

Op-ed: Rapid Transit Chaos

This project seems to be a done deal and that City Hall intends to break ground in May, whether or not all the funding is in place, and regardless of public opposition

Opposition Grows to Mayor’s Bus Plan

BY PETE DINELLI

On the evening of Feb. 24, I went to one of the 90-minute public meetings scheduled for public input on the $119 million dollar Albuquerque Rapid Transit project. The meeting was supposedly scheduled to allow the public to say what they like or don’t like about the project.

About 200 people attended. What I was shocked about was how the director of ABQ Ride and the director of the city’s planning department did nothing but offend the audience and showed no patience for answering questions about the project.

[The Feb. 25 Albuquerque Journal reported that people objected to Rizzieri’s attempt to break up the audience into small focus groups rather than answer audience-wide questions. It appears there was significant opposition to the first of five public hearings on the ART.]

ART Hearing Tonight

A public hearing on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project proposed by Mayor Richard Berry will be held at 6 p.m. tonight at the Manzano Day School cafeteria. The school is at 1801 Central Ave. N.W., between Laguna and Rancho Seco.

Another meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. p.m. March 2 at the Pat Baca Library at Central and Unser to discuss the West Central segments.

Another meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 3 at the Alice K. Hoppes African American Pavilion of Expo New Mexico, 300 San Pedro Dr. N.E.

Another meeting will be held in the Kiva Auditorium of the Albuquerque Convention Center at Third Street and Tijeras Boulevard.

To vote in ABQ Free Press’ poll on the Bus Rapid Transit project: Click here

 

The city insists that ART will increase bus usage up and down Central Avenue. After showing a brief video, city officials and the general contractor wanted to break into small groups. When asked if 15 to 20 minutes could first be devoted to answering questions from the public, ABQ Ride Director Bruce Rizzieri bristled with anger over the question and said he was not going to allow the meeting to degenerate into shouting conflicts.

Talk about arrogance. What I did learn is that this project seems to be a done deal and that City Hall intends to break ground in May, whether or not all the funding is in place, and regardless of public opposition. The ART project reminds me of the 1970s when City Hall crammed urban renewal down our throats where the existing convention center and Civic Plaza now are. Urban renewal destroyed Downtown, and ART, as presented, will destroy Route 66, especially Nob Hill.

Businesses along Central will be gutted, and City Hall has the nerve to suggest “loans” to now-thriving businesses that are making a profit to get them through the one-year construction phase. I strongly recommend people contact their city councilors and encourage them to STOP the ART project from starting until the public is satisfied.

Pete Dinelli is a former Albuquerque city councilor and mayoral candidate who ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Richard Berry, the ART’s chief supporter.

ABQ Free Press is currently conducting an online poll on support and opposition to the Bus Rapid Transit plan, now called ART, for Albuquerque Rapid Transit.

Click here to vote now

Results will be published in the March 4 issue of ABQ Free Press

 

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Albuquerque’s definitive alternative newspaper publishing an inquisitive, modern approach to the news and entertainment stories that matter most to New Mexicans. ABQ Free Press’ fresh voice speaks to insightful and involved professionals who care deeply about our community.

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Lex Voytek is a nervous wreck and reading quiets the noise. Reach her at books@freeabq.com.