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Councilor calls for study of ART’s impacts

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis plans to introduce a resolution Monday that, if approved, would require the city to undertake a “good, hard evaluation” of the impact the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project is having on traffic, businesses and the environment.

City Councilor Dan Lewis

City Councilor Dan Lewis

And if the project is found to have had a negative impact, the resolution calls for the city administration to come up with ways to mitigate those impacts, which could include re-opening dedicated bus lanes to general traffic.

Lewis, who is running for mayor, held a news conference outside of the iconic Frontier Restaurant late Friday to discuss his resolution.

“We’re going to take a good, hard evaluation of the changes,” he said.

The resolution calls for the city to collect data after the project is operational and to compare that to data from the same period one and two years prior to the construction of ART. Areas that would be evaluated include traffic volume along Central Avenue and the residential side streets near Central, pedestrian traffic on Central, transit ridership, changes in business sales figures, the number of businesses that have closed, air quality and collisions.

“Let’s let our projects be driven by data,” Lewis said.

Rhiannon Samuel, Mayor Richard Berry’s spokeswoman, issued a statement responding to Lewis’ resolution.

“We understand and expect the 15 mayoral candidates will have many ideas for the city, and we respect their ability to present those,” she said.

“The design team and our community have worked diligently for years to ensure that ART is a world class project that will bring economic opportunity for Central Avenue and the people of Albuquerque.”

ART will transform Central into a rapid transit corridor with a 9-mile stretch of bus-only lanes and bus stations. The $119 million project is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

Appearing with Lewis during his news conference was a handful of Central Avenue business owners, including Larry Rainosek, owner of the Frontier and Golden Pride restaurants.

Rainosek said he thinks the resolution is important because it will help speed up the modifications that will be needed to make the project workable for businesses. He said he thinks two lanes of vehicle traffic in each direction on Central are needed, as are many of the left turns that have been eliminated.

Anthony Anella, who owns properties along Central, said he thinks Lewis’ resolution holds elected officials accountable.

“If any city councilor votes against this resolution, in effect, they will be saying to the citizens of Albuquerque that they do not want to know what the impact of ART is on our community,” he said. “If Mayor Berry dares to veto this resolution, in effect, he will be saying to citizens of Albuquerque that he doesn’t want to know, either.”