ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A panel of federal appeals court judges have ruled the city can break ground on the controversial A.R.T bus project.
The federal appeals court judge lifted the injunction that had the city at a standstill.
The city hopes to break ground in the next couple weeks.
A judge still has to decide if the $119 million project on Central is a go. Opponents sued to stop it, saying the plan was half-baked.
The judge’s decision could come in weeks.
With this new development for the project, people are starting to wonder if drivers will follow all the rules of the road.
It’s a thought more than a year off, but Albuquerque city and public safety officials say they are thinking about what will happen when people use and abuse the ART bus dedicated lanes.
By now, it’s clear the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project means big changes for drivers, and the Mayor’s Office doesn’t deny that.
“Change is always a difficult thing,” Gilbert Montaño said, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, “We understand when it comes to a large-scale project like ART we understand there will be strain, and we understand there will be learning processes.”
One of the biggest changes may be the addition of dedicated bus lanes, poised to be colored and driven on only by buses with the exception of emergency vehicles. Drivers are not supposed to use or cut across them for a left turn.
But will everyone play by the rules? People who KRQE News 13 spoke with don’t think so.
“I think it’s going to be a big mess down here,” Bobby Tainter said.
“It’s just going to be chaos and people are going to use it any time they want to,” James Miller said.
The Cleveland Police Dept., where a similar transit program has been operating for several years, said not everyone plays by the rules to this day.
KRQE News 13 asked Albuquerque police what they foresee happening.
“The initial traffic stops in which people are stopped for these violations will most likely result in warning,” Ofc. Tanner Tixier, APD spokesperson said.
Then, after a grace period, people will be cited for violating ordinances like traveling in a non-designated roadway lane, or committing an illegal or unsafe left turn.
Tickets for those kind of infractions cost nearly $100.
While Albuquerque Police Department admits tickets like these are of less priority during the current officer shortage, police hope to have recruited enough officers by the time ART is complete that they can focus on enforcing these kind of rules.
We asked City Councilor Ken Sanchez if he’s considered drafting an ART-specific ordinance against bus lane misuse. He said he’d consider doing that if it turned out to be a problem.
The Mayor’s Office says maintaining order will heavily rely on education campaigns.
“We want to make sure that the public is both informed on how to utilize it, what the expectations are,” Montaño said.