ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A new push aims to slow Albuquerque’s plans for a high-speed bus system to a halt.
Local businesses are joining together to try to stop the funding for the project.
The city is counting on federal funding for the new Albuquerque Rapid Transit, or ART, but critics of the plan are urging the Feds not to approve that money.
“The Central Avenue business cemetery,” said Steve Schroeder pointing to a postcard. “Well, that’s what’s going to be here after this is put in.”
Schroeder at Nob Hill Music said he is one of 50 business owners who have signed on to stop ART.
It is a new high-speed bus system the city hopes will connect different neighborhoods and draw in more customers to local businesses.
However, that is not how Schroeder sees it.
“The sign on the front door is going to be the story of Nob Hill,” Schroeder said, referring to the “closed” sign on his door.
With one lane of traffic dedicated to the ART, he worries the already busy Route 66 will make driving, parking and walking worse, making potential customers think twice before heading that way.
The city is asking for a federal grant to pay for $80 million of the $100 million project.
“That is our first priority is to stop the funding,” Schroeder said.
He has addressed postcards to the Federal Transit Administration so that everyone against ART can let them know.
He said he’s mailed about 500 of those postcards to the Feds, then made copies of those to send to the Mayor and city councilors.
Dozens of Nob Hill businesses are displaying flyers Schroeder has provided in their store windows.
Rufus Cohen of Izzy Martin Menswear is not displaying one of those flyers.
“I think people who are expressing fears about change aren’t really acknowledging the number of problems that exist right now with parking, with speed limits,” Cohen said.
He sees ART as an opportunity to fund nicer landscaping, crosswalks and to slow the traffic that, he said, just speeds through now.
“Basically we have a retail area that has a highway running through it right now and that’s much too much traffic for retail success,” Cohen said.
Albuquerque said it will find out if FTA will grant the city funding for the transit project early next year when the President’s budget is released.
Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montano told News 13 that a consultant for the city said Albuquerque has a “very good chance” and should be optimistic about getting money for the ART.