ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s full steam ahead for the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project.
Wednesday morning, Mayor Richard J. Berry made the huge deal with the contractor official.
It wasn’t a ground breaking ceremony — instead of dirt and shovels, this was pen and paper. The city signed the $83 million contract with Bradbury Stamm Construction to re-do Central from Unser to Louisiana.
The 14 to 16-month construction of ART is expected to bring more than 2,000 jobs locally. In a news release, the mayor’s office touted hundreds of ART supporters would be in attendance at the event, but that was far from the case.
“This is a landmark day for the city of Albuquerque. It’s a landmark day for Central Avenue and Route 66,” said Mayor Berry.
Other than the water line prep for ART, and work at 1st and Copper, ART construction officially got underway at intersections along Central last week.
Crews began installing temporary traffic signals, but the city says major work in Nob Hill and Old Town won’t start until after the holiday season.
The total cost of ART is $119 million. With $83 million going towards construction, the remaining funds will be spent on the buses, design and land acquisition.
One of the speakers among Mayor Berry at the Wednesday morning contractor deal announcement was City Councilor Ken Sanchez.
“You’ve seen the signs that say “STOP ART,” well now it’s time to start ART,” he said.
This comes despite his introduction of a bill last month that would put a moratorium on construction until the Mayor’s office produced an updated plan on ART that addresses financial plans if $19 million in federal funding falls through, and the loss of left turn lanes and parking spots.
Sanchez says he’s always supported ART, but also wants to see businesses thrive and a back-up plan for funding.
“I think we’ve got to move forward cautiously,” he said.
On Wednesday night, councilors will vote on the bill, which has since been amended and no longer includes a “moratorium.” If passed, the Mayor would be required to submit the updated plans to councilors by Nov. 1 as construction continues in the mean time.
Sanchez said he’s optimistic the bill will pass.
The Mayor’s office says it’s been working with councilors, and will continue to work with them.
“I think it’s a collaborative effort between the Mayor’s office, the council and this community that we make this project work,” Sanchez said.
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