ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Another twist has popped up in the Albuquerque Rapid Transit controversy.The city to replace any medians it tears out as it moves pipes to clear the way for the mayor’s bus project until he decides if the ART has the green light.
This debate keeps getting stranger: crews could be rebuilding medians just to have more crews move in and tear them back out in a couple months. This occurring as the City-County Water Authority spends millions to move water lines to make way for the planned Albuquerque Rapid Transit line, the mayor’s $119 million project that will run dedicated bus lanes up and down Central from Coors to Louisiana.
“Our plan at this point is to go ahead and restore things to the way they were when we found them,” said David Morris of Water Utility Authority.
That’s because a federal judge has decided the Water Authority needs to fix those medians as it goes until a judge rules in July if the project is a go.
That also means the Water Authority will be spending more money to rebuild those medians with ART crews coming in again over the summer and fall just to tear them back out like in a long section of west Central between Coors and Old Coors.
The rebuilding and building is a result of the city promising to delay construction until late July to get more public input and let the legal battle play out.
The attorneys want to know if the city had anything to do with work starting early.
“They’ve also agreed to provide documentation regarding how we got to the point of tearing up the medians for art when construction’s not supposed to start until July,” said John McCall, Attorney for ART opponents.
The Water Authority, which is independent of the city, is caught in the middle- saying it just wanted to get a jump on the work in the event the judge does green light the new bus system, they won’t be holding it up.
The city believes the Water Authority only has to rebuild temporary medians but the Water Authority was clear and said it’s going to put them back in their “original condition.”
The millions the Water Authority is spending on relocating water lines for the bus lanes and stations and now rebuilding medians are separate from the $119 million the ART project will cost.
The city hopes to have the ART up and running by late next year.Correction: An earlier version of this story stated that a judge decided that the medians be replaced however it was the city that agreed to replace the medians. This story has been corrected to reflect that.