'What has FTA done to ensure that the City adequately reached out to stakeholders and addressed their concerns?' - Michelle Lujan Grisham
U.S. Rep. Asks FTA if All Community Concerns Were Addressed
BY JOHNNY VIZCAINO
New Mexico U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham has entered the fray of the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project on behalf of stakeholders who feel that they have been shut out of the process.
According to city officials and ART representatives, a bus rapid transit project has been in the works since as early as 2009 with the public being notified and consulted, although many members of the public argue they weren’t made aware of such a project until early 2015, when it was almost too late to have any say in it.
Earlier this year, City Council voted, 7-2, to accept $69 million in federal funds for public transit purposes and dedicate that funding to the $120 million ART project.
Earlier this month, the Albuquerque City Council Government and Operations committee voted down a resolution that would have put the project to a nonbinding city-wide public vote.
In an Aug. 9 letter to the Federal Transit Administration, Lujan-Grisham, an Albuquerque Democrat, expressed appreciation for the administration’s support of the city’s efforts to improve public transportation in Albuquerque, stating that “ART has the potential to be one of the largest infrastructure investments Albuquerque has received in a decade.”
“However, some members of the community feel that their thoughts and comments have fallen on deaf ears,” she wrote. Lujan-Grisham said she continues to meet with individuals on both sides of this project, including community leaders, business owners, and neighborhood residents.
In the letter, she provides a quote from Mayor Richard Berry in which he says the city’s “ears will be open the whole project,” indicating that the city would be responsive to concerns from community members from start to finish, then asked, “What has FTA done to ensure that the City adequately reached out to stakeholders and addressed their concerns?”
“A truly collaborative approach among stakeholders is the only way for the project to be successful, she wrote, “It is critical that local business owners and members of the community have a role in its design and construction.”
Lujan Grisham wrote that in meetings with constituents regarding ART, “legitimate concerns” over its design and construction have been raised. She said she has “an obligation to ensure that their voices are heard.”
“What were FTA’s responsibilities and actions to reach out and work with stakeholders as it reviewed the ART project for federal funding?” she wrote. “Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.”