ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The city’s latest update on a proposed bus rapid transit project shows just how quickly some construction related to the project could happen along Central Avenue, and it may be much faster than you think.
The city’s bus system, ABQ Ride is now circulating a new pamphlet on the “Albuquerque Rapid Transit” (ART) project that shows a new timeline for construction. The timeline calls for some light construction on the project to begin by the end of 2015.
It’s unclear where exactly that work will take place, but it will likely make Nob Hill’s main drag look a lot different with a potential for cones, ripped up streets and sidewalks.
“We’d like to start utilities relocation efforts later this year,” said Bruce Rizzieri, director of ABQ Ride.
According to Rizzieri, the city wants to start moving pipes, conduit and other utitiles along Central by November 2015. That work could happen anywhere along the 13-mile stretch of Central where ABQRide wants to build Albuquerque Rapid Transit between Tramway Boulevard to the east and 98th Street to the west. The work would prep the ground for new dedicated bus lanes and bus stations.
“That’s always a time consuming part of any type of road project,” said Rizzieri.
While the city hasn’t secured most of the estimated $100 million needed to building the project, planners are operating on a new timeline that calls for final design to wrap up by February 2016, and full blown construction to begin by May 2016.
“There will be disruption, there is a construction, but we’re going to take the best from other cities and make sure it’s minimized,” said Rizzieri.
Along with the timeline, there’s also the latest concept art with ideas that could reshape how drivers use Central through Nob Hill.
A new computer rendering of an ART bus station shows a stop built in the middle of what is the Central Ave and Bryn Mawr intersection today. KRQE News 13 showed the rendering to Nob Hill shoppers on Thursday.
“It’s a nice rendering, a computer rendering,” said Greg Smith of Albuquerque.
“Where do the bicycles go?,” said Jean Lowe, who was bicycling through Nob Hill.
“We would absolutely, we would use it,” said Chandi and Roy New.
“As long as they have the dollars in hand,” said an Albuquerque driver walking to his car on Central.
According to Rizzieri, the city says it’s abandoned the idea of cutting out on-street parking in Nob Hill. While the parking is there, the rendering shows only one lane of traffic though much of Nob Hill’s core. Some store owners aren’t so sure they like the idea.
“My initial reaction is waste of money,” said Jay Steinberg, owner of a boutique shop called “Birdland” in Nob Hill.
Steinberg says he’s concerned about how the bus route will impact business on Central.
“This does nothing for us, it’s just going to tear up the streets and cause us a loss of business and we’re already hurting in recession,” said Steinberg.
However, others see a benefit.
“If we got the transit, that’s hauling the people you don’t need the cars,” said Roy New.
ABQ Ride says it is planning to have more public meetings about the ART project before arriving at a “final design.” The agency is also still aiming to launch the service in September 2017, in about two and half years.
As for the funding, the city is hoping to get about $80 million of the estimated $100 million needed for the project from the Federal government. ABQ Ride thinks it should find out if it will get that money by early next year.Correction: In an earlier draft of this article, the total cost of the BRT project was reported to be an estimated $150 million. According to ABQRide, the total estimated cost of the project is actually $100 million.