Edited by Jessica Carr, Chad Gruber, Leila Salim, Michael Vos and other UrbanABQ team members
February 21, 2016
As of Tuesday, February 9, the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, otherwise known as ART, was approved for $69 million in federal funding from President Obama’s annual budget. This budget has not yet been approved by Congress so the funding is not guaranteed. However, there is a very good chance this funding will be approved and allocated, based on similar projects being approved in the past.
Regarding opinions in the community around this project, attendees were surveyed at a recent public meeting. The results were split in three ways with “38 percent of [the] 134 citizens who were polled — out of 247 who packed the rehearsal hall for the meeting — [saying] they don’t support the project, compared to 30 percent who said they do ‘very much’ and 57 percent who said they desire improved mass transit in the corridor.”
An Open Letter from Concerned Citizens
At the end of January Save Route 66 Central, the foremost antagonist in the effort to bring bus rapid transit to Albuquerque, published a critique of the city’s newest plan for the project. The entire letter can be found at this link.
We would like to say, in short, that this letter is well-thought-out. It is filled with ideas that could be successful if implemented in conjunction with the ART project. Unfortunately, the letter is also filled with misinformation and other data taken out of context.
“Paseo del Volcan plan hailed as future of the west”
“Full steam ahead on ‘active’ Paseo del Volcan project”
“DOT considers proposals to ease traffic on U.S. 550”
The headlines always sound so romantic, don’t they?
Though these are all real headlines from the Albuquerque Journal about real projects, they’re selling a myth. This is part of the discussion within the #NoNewRoads campaign by our friends over at Strong Towns—an education and advocacy nonprofit working to create resilient communities through better development models. #NoNewRoads strives to transform the national transportation conversation through a nontraditional campaign (emphasis ours):
This week at Strong Towns we are going to focus our attention on the embarrassing mess that is the American system of transportation finance. Our premise here at Strong Towns has been, for some time now, #NoNewRoads, a rejection of any proposal to spend more money on this system until we undertake dramatic reform.
That position puts us at odds with advocates on the left of our political spectrum as well as those on the right. So be it. The current political paradigm is bankrupting this country … . It’s time to create a new paradigm.
Everyone loves a ribbon cutting for a new road project, but maintaining the infrastructure once it has been built is not quite as fun or exciting. Our current financing system emphasizes new construction without accounting for long term maintenance costs.
New and widened roads are subject to an economic rule known as “induced demand.” It works like this:
– Kristen Woods
This Map shows nearly every job in Albuquerque mapped as a dot. It was developed by a Harvard Ph.D. students named Robert Manduca and is discussed in the Washington Post. The map is in an interactive format that spans the whole United States. It is based on Census Data.
The map is important because it shows us numerous ways that the location of job development can effect Albuquerque.
Albuquerque City Council unanimously adopted the Bikeways and Trails Facility Plan on May 18, 2015. This plan builds on many years of hard work and specifies next steps in the progression for increasing bicycling friendliness. The plan’s champion Councilor Isaac Benton said this was a long time coming and took a multi department effort that was boosted by advocacy from the entire community. Bicycling is generating an atmosphere of excitement in Albuquerque, NM.
I’m including a link to the actual City Council proceedings because it tells a tremendous story. This was a community moment where the long struggle to realize a vision of better bicycling was recognized. The prevailing sense is that bicycling connects people together, and better bicycling advances all of humanity. People really want this, and are doing the work to make it happen. There was a pause to take stock and celebrate all the hard work it has taken to get the plan this far. It hasn’t been easy, but challenges…
A few weeks ago, Steve Clark from the League of American Bicyclists visited Albuquerque to evaluate our ability to become a more bike friendly city. This fantastic article covers the exciting events which occurred on that day and what this all means for Albuquerque.
On Tuesday, April 8 Mayor Berry kicked off his 50 mile healthy travel initiative with a ceremony on a trail linking the Mile High District to Uptown in Albuquerque. This coincided with a visit by Mr. Steve Clark from the Bicycle Friendly Community program run by the League of American Bicyclists. The day’s festivities moved Albuquerque in healthy directions. Cities that rate highly as walk and bike friendly also rank as top places to live. Elected officials, professional staff, businesses and community advocates are working on this synergistic development.
We met at City Hall in the morning. The plan was to take a bike ride with Steve and look closely at Albuquerque’s transportation system from a bicycling perspective. First we had coffee and greetings. This meeting would be a fun one to do every day.
We stopped at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd to discuss multimodal improvements on the horizon