MAKE ART SMART responds to FAQ's from ART’s website
From City brtabq.com/FAQ:
Why will ART run along Historic Central Ave., which has fledging business districts and some of the only pedestrian friendly areas of Albuquerque?
“They (rapid transit systems) transport people to locations where they can get off and shop, do business or have a meal. People can get right back on and do more of the same or go home. ART will also upgrade the look and feel of Central Ave by adding to the walkability and livability of neighborhoods. Plans include widening sidewalks and adding trees to encourage pedestrian and bike-friendly development. Signalized crosswalks will also improve the safety of those walking or biking in the neighborhoods, as well as improved street lighting. Central also connects some of Albuquerque’s main institutions; University of New Mexico, Presbyterian Hospital. With the help of Innovate ABQ, ART could stimulate a tremendous economic revitalization and development of the corridor.”
MAS says: Current ART plans do not include plans for widening more than just a few blocks of sidewalks in areas of low business density east of Nob Hill. Our analysis shows the removal of 217 mature trees. The presence of bicycle lanes is spotty at best. Parking is essential to creating vibrant small business districts but ART removes 195 parking spaces
It seems that this project will degrade the Central Ave. corridor and detract from traffic congestion and slow traffic.
“The ART project will contribute and in some areas enhance the character of Central Avenue. Widening sidewalks, removing sidewalk ADA deficiencies, adding sidewalk landscaping, and improving pedestrian lighting create a walkable environment. This type of environment attracts people and businesses. Many areas along Central Avenue want slower traffic. This increases the safety of pedestrian and bicycle users and makes businesses more “visible”.
MAS says: According to the ART plans, sidewalks will not be widened except for just a few blocks in a low density area east of Nob Hill – even as vehicle lanes are reduced to one per direction. Dedicated bicycle lanes are spotty – they appear and disappear along the route. Route 66 buses will continue to run in the one vehicle lane and 6 additional traffic lights (making 18 total) will be installed in the highest density area from I-25 to Carlisle. We think that the goal of slowed traffic might actually end up being extreme congestion, causing motorists to avoid Central altogether and force traffic to residential streets immediately to the north and south.
Why do we think this will help Central?
“ART will not only improve the timely nature of transit service on Central Avenue, it will also upgrade the appearance and condition of Central. The project will add lighting, improve sidewalk conditions, add sidewalk landscaping, and improve pedestrian safety, all of which supports the furtherance of economic opportunity along this corridor.”
MAS says: Our study does not show widened sidewalks and landscaping on the ART plans except a few blocks east of Nob Hill where no one walks. Another requirement for sound economic development which ART is not addressing is parking for motorists who visit the districts. ART removes 195 valuable parking spaces in small business districts. Street parking is the lifeblood of small businesses in older areas where private parking may not be available.
Why not use the Federal Transit Administration grant ABQ Ride has applied for to address the other transportation issues in ABQ such as expanding existing service or repairing roads?
“Small Starts grant funds cannot be used for other types of infrastructure improvements nor to offset operating expenses. The grant offers a unique opportunity for the City of Albuquerque to enhance and update the Central Avenue Corridor, providing first class transit service, safety improvements, ADA-compliant, vibrant pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods that support existing businesses and attract new investment while following Albuquerque’s Complete Streets policy. The grant for this specific corridor is an opportunity for improvements that would not otherwise be available.”
MAS says: The improvements shown on the ART plans pertain almost exclusively to the installation of the dedicated, bi-directional center bus lanes. Sidewalks are not widened, landscaping is removed. The claim that ART will support pedestrian friendly neighborhoods is not substantiated.
What’s in it for me?
“Improving transit options is vital to Albuquerque’s future quality of life and economic development. Improving the city’s transportation at its core can attract direct investment growing locally-owned businesses, providing increased employment opportunities, as the City of Cleveland experienced.”
MAS says: We do not see how ART will encourage economic development. Yes, there will be real estate development – but that is not the same thing as economic development. We are concerned that ART’s current design will not accomplish any kind of development if its numerous design flaws are not corrected by the City’s planners and architects.
Why is this project being promoted as a big element of bolstering the underperforming economy of Albuquerque?
“In addition to access to job opportunities, transit stations, by providing anchors for a community, can help offer place-making; that is, neighborhoods that are considered pedestrian-friendly, encouraging people to walk or bike between businesses, offices, homes and other destinations. This in turn enhances the overall quality of life in the community.”
MAS says: “Place making” and community life are directly related to creating attractive public spaces that encourage walking, mingling and a variety of other activities. ART does not adequately address creation of walkable streets or other kinds of people friendly public spaces along its route.