ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration scored a win in court Tuesday as opponents of his Albuquerque Rapid Transit project voluntarily dropped their lawsuit that tried to stop it.
The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals previously ruled against a temporary injunction to halt the project, raising questions about the chances the plaintiffs had at obtaining a permanent injunction against it.
“We are pleased by today’s development and will work diligently to help create opportunity for our city and the Central Avenue corridor through ART,” Berry said in a statement. “We will continue to work with the community and businesses during construction to minimize impact and maximize opportunity.”
The city is carving out a nine-mile network of bus-only lanes that will run down the middle of Central Avenue from Louisiana to Coors.
Yolanda Gallegos, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, said that although Tuesday’s filing brings an end to the litigation against ART, her clients will still try to correct problems they see with the project. A number of people, businesses and community groups had brought the lawsuit seeking to stop ART.
Gallegos said her clients still had great concerns about congestion, safety, how the project will affect businesses and funding for construction and operation of the transportation system.
Now, she said, “a new mayor will inherit this unworkable and irresponsible juggernaut and the citizens of Albuquerque could be left holding the tab.”
“It is our hope that Mayor Berry or the next mayor will pause to reconsider the project and carry out a redesign to minimize harm to pedestrians, merchants, drivers, and the historic districts the ART route impacts,” she said in a statement.
Construction began last year on the $119 million project, funded primarily with federal dollars, and is expected to be completed at the end of 2017.