Judge hears argument against Albuquerque Rapid Transit project

ART pre-construction
ART pre-construction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The groups aiming to put the brakes on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project got their day in court Wednesday. They want the controversial construction project stopped.

The city says doing that would be bad for Albuquerque. With construction set to start within the next few days, the groups opposing ART are asking a federal judge for a preliminary injunction — saying the construction and project itself will permanently damage Central.

Wednesday morning during opening statements plaintiffs argued that the city and Federal Transit Administration didn’t properly study or consider the impacts of narrowing Central in certain sections to one lane of car traffic and one dedicated bus lane for ART.

Steve Paternoster, the owner of Scalo and Elaine’s in Nob Hill claimed his restaurants would lose 50 percent of their business as a result of the changes.

Other Route 66 business and property owners talked about the negative impact of losing left turn access into their business and increased congestion on Central itself.
But the city counters those claims saying the project was properly studied in accordance with the law and the benefits of that new bus system to residents, tourists, University of New Mexico students and other bus riders outweigh the business concerns.

They say if the judge puts the brakes on the project that would do irreparable harm in the form of delays of those benefits and increased construction costs.

In fact, the city’s asking that if there is a preliminary injunction issued, that the plaintiffs suing them should have to put up some money to compensate for any delays caused should they lose at trial. The claim is that the cost of those delays would be $7,500 a day.

Another large part of Wednesday’s hearing centered around the determination that ART would not damage the historic character of Route 66. Plaintiffs dispute that saying that conclusion was improperly reached.

The hearing is scheduled to last through Thursday. If the judge doesn’t stop the project, construction on ART could start as early as next week.

Meanwhile, someone is making their opinion about the ART project very public. A huge sign reads “no ART” on the pedestrian bridge over I-40 near Coors.

KRQE.com provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s