Plans for new bus system raise concerns

Albuquerque Rapid Transit proposal

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A new bus system planned for Albuquerque is meant to make travel easier and faster. They’ll even have their own lanes and stations along Central Avenue. But some businesses owners and neighbors have concerns about the city’s proposed bus rapid transit system.

The public has had opportunities for the last two weeks to voice their opinions on the plans, and take a look at the renderings. Among their concerns are safety and access to businesses.

Albuquerque’s bus system will soon get a major face-lift.

“It can be part of the tool kit for redevelopment and development efforts along Central Avenue,” said Bruce Rizzieri, Director of ABQ RIDE.

However, renderings for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit, or “ART,” have sparked some concerns.

“If you eliminate the median, the bicycle/pedestrian safety problems are going to increase dramatically,” said Don Hancock, of the University Heights Neighborhood Association.

In some areas, the entire median would become designated bus lanes. Hancock has safety concerns near the UNM campus, where lots of students and families frequent.

“It sounds like it’d probably be more efficient for the bus itself,” said Deborah Boro, who rides her bike frequently on campus.

Hancock said he’s worried about a six-lane river of traffic, and what appears to be fewer opportunies to turn left while driving on Central.

“Bicyclists and pedestrians trying to cross, that’s continuous accidents just waiting to happen,” said Hancock.

“We’re looking at options for U-turn movements, and left-hand turn movements where they don’t have them right now,” said Rizzieri.

In much of the stretch, renderings show the buses in the middle lanes, along with the bus stops.

“I think it’s a fantastic idea, my concern is that Albuquerque is a car culture,” said Susan Ricker, owner of Off Broadway in Nob Hill.

Renderings show general purpose traffic will be cut to one-lane each direction.

Ricker’s store has been in Nob Hill 28 years. She wants to keep easy access to her shop.

“They have to be able to turn to come into each individual block, because we are all small business owners,” explained Ricker. “We’ve worked really hard for years to get our businesses up and running.”

The city says it’s listening to feedback.

“We’re very sensitive to keeping businesses in business and helping provide economic development opportunities, and not taking away from those opportunities,” said Rizzieri.

Thursday was the last open house where people could check out the renderings in person.

The ABQ RIDE Director told KRQE News 13, he hopes to have a final design started by next year.

The city is hoping to have the new bus system open by the fall of 2017.

Rizzieri said he believes it’ll cost about $10 million per mile, which amounts to about $150 million total. That includes road work and buses.

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