The entire ART bus project has been built on promises and lies to the public by Mayor Berry, his administration and the Albuquerque City Council.
BY PETE DINELLI
The Albuquerque Journal and other news outlets are reporting that Nob Hill merchants are angry about the unfulfilled promise that the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project would be completed in time and would have no effect on the Route 66 Summerfest in the Nob Hill business district.
Nob Hill merchants contend they were promised in a meeting last year with City Hall that Summerfest would not be disrupted and the city is denying it ever make such a promise.
During the past seven years, Summerfest has been celebrated on Central from Girard to Washington and has attracted upwards of 40,000 attendees.
The city made the decision to severely reduce the area of Summerfest by bypassing Nob Hill from Carlisle to Washington.
The City got downright sneaky when it issued a press release on May 25 with the headline “ART Construction in Nob Hill to finish in time for Route 66 Summerfest,” saying Summerfest would take place on Central between Girard and Carlisle. But it failed to disclose that eight blocks of Nob Hill would be left out of this year’s Summerfest.
The entire ART bus project has been built on promises and lies to the public by Mayor Richard Berry, his administration and the Albuquerque City Council.
Let’s count a few of the lies:
First lie: The Federal Transportation Administration grant application for the project said it would not be a controversial project and it has wide public support. Strong opposition occurred at five public hearings with heated, angry citizens.
Second lie: There is no need for an environmental impact study. Businesses and citizens went to federal court and argued that such studies were indeed needed and required but the court said the requirement was waived by the FTA.
Third lie: ART will not put people out of business nor affect businesses. Over 250 business say otherwise and many have lost as much as 25-to-50 percent of their business, with others closing.
Fourth lie: ART will not reduce off street parking. There will be as many as 350 fewer parking spaces up Central.
Fifth lie: ART will not ruin historic Route 66. It already has, and it will with the canopy bus stop design.
Sixth lie: The canopy bus stop design conforms with historical areas of central. The city’s Landmarks Commission asked for a new design.
Seventh lie: ART will not impact traffic. The city admitted in a public forum the project has a 19-year shelf life and that sooner rather than later the bus stops in the middle of Central will have to be removed and traffic lanes will have to be rededicated to accommodate projected increases in traffic along Central.
Eighth lie: ART will not impact emergency services. There is only one lane of traffic in each direction with no left turn lanes that will impair emergency services such as ambulance and police emergency calls.
Ninth lie: ART will cost only $129 million. At least $7 million in hidden sewer line replacement and relocation costs have been incurred.
10th lie: There will be loans or grants to help businesses starting March 1, 2017. After much delay, the loan program was finally implemented on April 21, 2017 with many businesses unable to qualify and businesses already closed that needed the money.
11th lie: Construction will not start until after December 2016. The city started to tear up the streets and relocate water lines in September 2016.
12th lie: Sidewalks will be widened for pedestrian traffic. Simply not true per the March 13, 2017 Albuquerque Journal article, page A-1 “ART ATTACK; Transit project failing to deliver on promises, business owner’s say”).
13th lie: The buses are always full now. Most people and businesses along Central report the buses are empty most of the time and bus usage is actually declining.
14th lie: The ART bus project will be used by millennials. ART only affects a 9-mile stretch of Central, and millennials use their own vehicles to go to work all over the city and not just up and down Central.
15th lie: This is the mayor’s project and there is nothing the city council can do to stop the project. The council could have voted not to fund the project and has funded the construction of the project with at least $13 million in revenue bonds.
16th lie: There is no need to put the project to a public vote. Albuquerque historically has always put major capital improvement projects such as ART to a public vote.
17th lie: Congress will approve the $69 million grant. Congressional committees have cut $20 million from the grant with no guarantee that it will be made up in next year’s budget resulting in Albuquerque having to identify additional funding sources to make up for the shortfall.
18th lie: The $129 million project will have long-term economic development benefits and will create jobs. The project is nothing more than a single construction project that only benefits the construction industry for a short term of a year.
19th lie: The project has already generated millions in economic development. The Berry administration is taking credit for millions of dollars of construction projects that were permitted and planned long before the ART bus project, saying the new construction is because of ART.
20th greatest lie: Mayor Berry says ART is a “world-class” transportation project. ART is a cheesy 9-mile, $129 million bus route. A world-class transportation project costs billions of dollars, like Denver’s and Phoenix’s light rail systems.
Stay tuned for more lies from the City Hall Liars’ Club.
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