Albuquerque’s Big Choice: Prioritize Streets for Transit, or Stagnate

Albuquerque is at a pivotal moment that could determine whether it becomes more a walkable and transit-oriented city.

ART -- Albuquerque's Rapid Transit -- BRT project will give a frequently running spine to the city's transit grid. Map: ABQ Ride
Albuquerque’s BRT project will add center-running bus lanes and frequent service on Central Avenue, the east-west spine of the city’s transit grid. Map: ABQ Ride

The mayor, a Republican, is backing a major bus rapid transit project called ART along the city’s main corridor, Central Avenue. The project was recently recommended for funding in the Obama administration’s budget proposal.

The added momentum for the project set off opponents, who penned an open letter against it. A chief complaint is that claiming space for transit on Central Avenue will slow down cars.

On a commercial street where traffic moves as dangerous speeds, that’s a benefit, write supporters of the project at Streetsblog Network member Urban ABQ:

Nob Hill Main Street recently hired Robert Gibbs Planning Group to do a retail health analysis of the Nob Hill retail district and the Central corridor in that area.  When discussing problems with the corridor, the first statement from the report, linked here, states that “Central Avenue needs to be slowed down. The noise, nuisance, and threat to safety are a major impediment.”

Other notable aspects of the report included the portion stating that “walk-ability, both as an index and as experienced by most shoppers, is poor; sidewalks are narrow and cluttered, street crossing is difficult and dangerous.”

Recommended strategies to fix these stated problems include “slow Central Avenue to 25 mph”and “replace parking kiosks with modern ‘smart’ parking meters at each space.”

Recommended structural changes from the report included “wider sidewalks, more pedestrian crossings, more traffic lights, and public spaces” and “reduce traffic to one lane each way.”

The ART project will accomplish all of these goals.

Overall, ART will greatly improve the retail environment on Central Avenue.

Elsewhere on the Network: Bike Portland reports the city is considering a protected intersection — its first — on a new bike lane. Bike Walk Lee explains why Florida cyclists should support a new statewide vulnerable road user bill. And at Straight Outta Suburbia, someone in the market for a house says properties with no sidewalks won’t make the cut.

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