No more cones.
No more lane closure signs.
No more warning lights.
And there are now smiles on the faces of some Central Avenue business owners after Mayor Tim Keller on Thursday announced the end of major construction of Albuquerque Rapid Transit stations.
During a gathering in front of Duran’s Central Pharmacy, Keller exclaimed that Central Avenue is open for business and encouraged residents to shop and eat at businesses in their neighborhoods.
“Route 66 through our town is still thriving,” Keller said of the historic avenue. “There are lots of good places to shop and eat. It’s home to a lot of businesses and professional services that are along Route 66. I want to remind folks, especially with the weather getting warmer, that Central is open for business.”
Mona Ghattas, owner of Duran’s Central Pharmacy since 2010, said the end of construction “means everything” to the owners and employees of Central Avenue businesses.
“It means that Central is open and people can come down and visit the great businesses,” Ghattas said. “We would love people to come by and check us out.”
Keller also said visitors will continue to enjoy free parking along Central Avenue for at least two more months.
“There’s a fresh coat of pavement,” he said. “There’s fresh striping and fresh lighting up and down Central Avenue. What Central Avenue has gone through has been traumatic for those businesses and in many ways for our town. I believe that Albuquerque has to come together and realize that no one likes construction.”
However, with the optimism that goes with the cessation of station construction, the ART puzzle remains unfinished.
And the largest piece is missing.
It’s unclear when buses will run in the designated lanes that run along nine miles of Central.
Keller gave no details on the status of those buses Thursday but said he hoped to have more information in about two weeks.
“The timeline is dependent on the bus company,” he said. “We have a call with them every week to try to renegotiate the contract so we can get a timeline. Those negotiations are still in progress, which is why we don’t have a firm timeline.”
Manufactured by Build Your Dreams bus company, 20 fully electric, 60-foot articulated buses worth nearly $23 million were originally scheduled for delivery last October.
Of the 16 buses received, the city has identified multiple problems, including cracked panels and leaking axle hubs.
BYD officials have said the current delays for the remaining four buses are due to the company’s external supply chain.