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ART Utility Work Starts

ART Utility Work Starts

'The Water Utility Authority is relocating water lines that are in conflict with the proposed ART project' – water utility spokesperson

Despite Lawsuits Against ART, Water Lines Being Moved

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI

The traffic jams that many predicted would come with Mayor Richard Berry’s Albuquerque Rapid Transit project have already begun, even though two lawsuits have been filed to stop the project.

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority began relocating water lines Tuesday and Wednesday on opposite ends of Central Avenue in anticipation of ART construction.

Work at Central and Old Coors Road on the West Side began Tuesday, and work at San Mateo and Central on the East Side began Wednesday, said ABCWUA spokesperson Patti Watson.

The work at both locations has traffic on Central and its cross streets reduced to one lane in one direction. At San Mateo and Central, eastbound traffic on Central was funneled to one lane for at least four blocks west of San Mateo. And southbound traffic on San Mateo was cut to one lane for four or five blocks north of Central.

“The Water Utility Authority is relocating water lines that are in conflict with the proposed ART project, and the criteria is if they are old and they might break during construction. More of them will be coming in the future,” Watson said.

The first two line relocations will cost $1 million to $1.5 million and will last at least 60 days, Watson added. At Central and San Mateo, construction crews are replacing and moving 800 feet of water lines on the south side of Central east and west of San Mateo.

The water line relocations began even though two lawsuits have been filed to stop ART. The complaints, filed in early April in federal state courts, allege that the Federal Transit Administration violated the National Historic Preservation Act and the federal Administrative Act in approving $69 million in federal grants for ART. Both lawsuits seek injunctions to stop ART.

Attorney John McCall, who filed the state court suit, said Wednesday that the water linconstruction on central avenuee construction was an attempt by the city to get around the lawsuits. “It’s an effort to get around the litigation and sneak the project into creation without doing any kind of announcement,” McCall said. “It looks like they are trying to get the work done so they can tell the judge they have already started.”

McCall also said that the state court suit has been moved to federal court. He added that the attorney in the second lawsuit, John Boyd, was preparing to file an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order to stop the water line construction. That motion was expected to be filed Wednesday afternoon or Thursday, McCall said.

One of the plaintiffs in the state court suit, Maria Bautista, said the relocation work was sneaky. “It is very underhanded to use the water authority as an excuse to start the ART project ahead of schedule,” Bautista said.

FormARTsigner Albuquerque city councilor Pete Dinelli, a longtime ART critic, also ripped the city for water line construction. “This has got to be one of the sneakiest and underhanded actions by the water authority and the city that I have seen in a long time,” Dinelli said.

Elizabeth Vencill, an attorney with an office on Quincy Street a block north of Central, said she received no notice work was starting. “It’s basically the city thumbing their nose at the litigants,” she said.

“The whole thing stinks with so many back-door deals,” Vencill said.

Construction on ART was originally scheduled to start in late May, but was then moved to August.

 

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.
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  • Despite Lawsuits Against ART, Water Lines Being Moved | The New Mexico Tribune - New Mexico News & More
    May 11, 2016, 2:41 pm

    […] This originally ran in the ABQ Free Press […]

    REPLY
  • Pete Dinelli
    May 11, 2016, 4:24 pm

    This Albuquerque Free Press reports on what is without any doubt one of the sneakiest, most underhanded actions I have ever seen by government. Last month, the city Council voted to proceed with the ART bus project without putting it to a public vote. The City also announced that groundbreaking on ART would be delayed from May until July. Two lawsuits were also filed, one in State Court and one in Federal Court, with the parties seeking an injunction to stop the project for violations of Federal and State laws. Further, the Landmarks Commission also delayed for another 30 days its decision to issue a "certificate of appropriateness" for the ART project. Determined to proceed with the project, the Water Utility Authority has begun tearing up the medians and trees at Coors and Central and digging up the water lines in preparation of ART before any hearing can be held before a Federal Judge on whether the project can proceed or should be stopped. Amazing! And the Mayor and City Council wonder why people have lost faith in them! Once again, it will be the taxpayers who will suffer and be force to foot the bill to restore the medians if the injunctions are granted to stop the project.

    REPLY
  • […] Albuquerque Rapid Transit-related water line relocation projects along Central Avenue will continue for now without legal efforts to stop them, an attorney in one […]

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  • […] DENNIS DOMRZALSKI The Albuquerque Rapid Transit-related water line relocation projects along Central Avenue will continue for now without legal efforts to stop them, an attorney in one […]

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  • […] Albuquerque Rapid Transit-related water line relocation projects along Central Avenue will continue for now without legal efforts to stop them, an attorney in one […]

    REPLY
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