ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s the talk of Albuquerque.
The city estimated that construction on the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project would only add about 5 to 10 minutes to the average commute along Central Ave. This week, drivers are saying that’s not the case at all, and they’re mad and frustrated.
KRQE News 13 tested the city’s claim during the evening rush hour Tuesday and found it took 50 minutes to travel a stretch of Central that should have taken only 13 minutes. Many other drivers also say they waited in traffic for nearly an hour on Central Tuesday.
Work is being done up and down Central from Coors to Louisiana. That’s also sending more traffic onto alternate routes.
Project Spokesperson Joanie Griffin says traffic should get better and this is the case at the start of most big projects.
“Well, whenever you start… look, we’re doing a nine mile construction project and we’re in pretty much all the major areas right now at the same time. So yeah, it’s going to be rough for the first week to 10 days,” said Griffin.
She says after this week or so, they expect that drive time to lessen. Her suggestion for getting through construction for the next year? Take other routes, leave early or avoid rush hour.
Downtown workers said those suggestions were not doable.
“I already leave an hour ahead of time to get my kids to school, so that’s not realistic,” Sectrina Gonzales said.
“Yesterday we tried to eat at restaurant down Central and we ended up coming back late from lunch, so that’s time from my vacation bucket that I have to enter,” Tiffan Archuleta said.
Griffin says as part of the project, they are coordinating the traffic lights in the construction zone, but there are no plans to lengthen the green lights. She also says the areas that are blocked off right now will not be adjusted.
District 1 City Councilor Ken Sanchez said that the work so far is a “disaster,” and that he didn’t expect so many lanes of Central to be closed even where no work is happening. He thought the work would be done in segments.
“It really has been a nightmare, a lot more difficult than I had anticipated,” he said.
Sanchez also expressed concern for the businesses along Central who could lose customers.
He said something needs to be done to alleviate the congestion and ensure those businesses are OK.
You can find an update on the ART project’s website every Friday, with the latest on where construction will be each week so drivers can plan their routes. To view the ART website, click here.