ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Mayor Richard Berry’s administration is asking a city landmarks commission to sign off on the plan to build a bus rapid transit system down Central Avenue.
The application centers on less than half a mile of the proposed corridor, through the east Downtown, or EDo, and Huning Highland neighborhoods.
A zoning plan for the area requires review by the Landmarks and Urban Conservation Commission – a seven-person panel now filled with two real-estate professionals, two architects, a cultural historian and an attorney, with one vacancy. Members are appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the City Council.
Joanie Griffin, a spokeswoman for Albuquerque Rapid Transit, said the project team will work with the commission to carry out whatever recommendations it makes.
The Berry administration is seeking a “certificate of appropriateness” as part of its $119 million plan to build a network of dedicated bus lanes and bus stations in the middle of Central Avenue, from the West Side to the state fairgrounds.
The landmarks application focuses only on the stretch of Central roughly between the railroad tracks and Interstate 25. According to the application, the city administration says:
- One lane of traffic in each direction would be removed to make way for new bus-only lanes in the center of the street. That means there would be one lane of general traffic in each direction, not two.
- In parts of the corridor, Central Avenue has only enough room for one ART bus lane in the middle of the street. Buses headed in each direction would share the lane, with a signal ensuring that only one bus is using it at a time.
- An ART station would be built at Walter Street. The station platform is raised above the street slightly to be level with the buses, and there’s a kiosk for buying tickets.
- The project won’t make any significant changes to the sidewalk. It will add 18 trees while removing only three, between Broadway and Edith.
- On-street parking will remain in east Downtown – with the addition of seven new spaces – and an eastbound bicycle lane also added, according to the application.
The Huning Highland and EDo neighborhood associations issued a statement saying they have been working with the city on a design that upholds three principles for the area: putting pedestrians first, making it easy for people to park once and walk to their destination, and having daily needs met within walking distance.
They expect to release a report in about two weeks.