ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Albuquerque Rapid Transit has been a contentious idea since its announcement. Now, the mayor who started the hotly debated project is leaving office. Ahead of election to replace him, KRQE News 13 asked voters what they think about ART.
Again and again, current Mayor Richard J. Berry has said that Albuquerque Rapid Transit will be great for Central. According to the results of a KRQE News 13 poll, however, it seems the majority of the public disagrees.
Businesses along Central have continued to express their woes as they try, some unfortunately without success, to push though ART construction.
“The loss of business has been tremendous,” Birdland owner John Steinberg said in March.
“Yeah, it’s been pretty big of a bummer,” explained Joseph Millard of Astro-Zombies comic shop.
“It’s just hurting so many people. The construction is hurting so many people,” Bessie’s owner Bessie Romero told us.
Yet, outgoing Mayor Berry’s ART end goal has been the opposite, and to instead bring business to Central. In fact, he credits a lot of development on and around Central to ART, despite some of it having been in the works before the transit project was announced.
“The fact that we’re 20 percent done with the project and we’ve had $300 million worth of projects navigate towards that,” the mayor said back in January.
One of the biggest issues with ART is the loss of left turn lanes to get to businesses.
“If you can’t turn left where you used to be able to turn, you’ll be able to go to the next light and legally there will be a U-turn,” ART and city spokeswoman Joanie Griffin has explained.
In a recent poll conducted ahead of the October 3 election, KRQE News 13 asked voters, “Do you think that Albuquerque Rapid Transit (also known as ART) will bring business to Central Avenue corridor?”
Just 18 percent said “yes,” while a whopping 62 percent said “no.” The rest were undecided.
KRQE News 13 took the results to UNM Political Science Professor Gabe Sanchez.
“So, if you’re a mayoral candidate, one of the first decisions you’re going to have to make is do I continue riding down this road with ART? Do I try to make any revisions to it? Do I go out full-force and try to block it?” he said.
Sanchez said it is a tricky issue no matter what side you come down on.
“Are you really going to stop it? I don’t think it’s going to play as well with voters as somebody who says, ‘Look, it’s here to stay. Let’s think about how to capitalize on it and use it as a tool to attract businesses,'” Sanchez said.
Another interesting number to note with the poll results: when broken down by political party, 76 percent of Republicans said they believe ART will not bring business to the Central corridor. Mayor Berry, of course, is a Republican.
Polling Methodology & Results
For this poll, a sample of likely households was chosen from the population registered to vote in the city of Albuquerque for a “hybrid” automated (for landlines)/live (for cell phones) poll, where 74 percent of the phone numbers were landlines and 26 percent of the phone numbers were cell phones. There were 500 completed responses to 11 poll questions.
The survey was conducted August 26-27. The margin of error, with a 95 percent confidence interval, was 4.4 percent. The party registration of respondents was 52-34 percent Democratic/Republican (14 percent Independents). The geographic breakdown of the respondents was as follows: 52 percent from northeast Albuquerque, 19 percent from northwest Albuquerque, 22 percent from southeast Albuquerque, and 7 percent from southwest Albuquerque (The dividing lines for these four quadrants of Albuquerque are the (east/west) Rio Grande and (north/south) Interstate 40).