“I feel I have been lied to. We have been lied to all along”, so says Susan Ricker, the owner of a Nob Hill business for 30 years, when it comes to the ART Bus Project. (See March 13, 2017 Albuquerque Journal article, page A-1 “ART ATTACK; Transit project failing to deliver on promises, business owner’s say”)
The entire ART Bus project has been built on lies to the public by Mayor Berry, his administration and the Albuquerque City Council.
Let’s count a few of the lies:
1st lie: The Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) grant application for the project that said it will not be a controversial project and it has wide public support; Strong opposition occurred at five (5) public hearings.
2nd lie: There is no need for an environmental impact study; Businesses and citizens went to federal court and argued that such studies were indeed needed and required but the court said it was waived by the FTA.
3rd lie: ART will not put people out of business nor affect businesses; Over 250 business say otherwise and many have lost as much as 25% to 50% of their business with others closing.
4th lie: ART will not reduce off street parking; There will be as many as 350 fewer parking spaces up central.
5th lie: ART will not ruin historic Route 66; It already has and it will with the canopy bus stop design.
6th lie: The canopy bus stop design conforms with historical areas of central; The City’s Landmarks Commission asked for a new design.
7th lie: ART will not impact traffic; The city admitted in a public forum the project has a 19 year shelf life and that sooner than later the bus stops in the middle of central will have to be removed and traffic lanes will have to be rededicated to accommodate projected increases in traffic along central.
8th lie: ART will not impact emergency services; There is only one lane of traffic in each direction with no left turn lanes that will impair emergency services such as ambulance and police emergency calls.
9th lie: ART will cost only $129; At least $7 million in hidden sewer line replacement and relocation costs have already been incurred.
10th lie: There will be loans or grants to help businesses starting March 1, 2017; After much delay, the loan program was finally implemented on April 21, 2017 with many businesses unable to qualify and businesses already closed that needed the money.
11th lie: Construction will not start until after December, 2016; The city started to tear up the streets and relocate water lines in September, 2016.
12th lie: Sidewalks will be widened for pedestrian traffic; Simply not true per the Journal story.
13th lie: The buses are always full now; Most people and businesses along Central report the buses are empty most of the time and bus usage continues to decline.
14th lie: The ART bus project will be used by millennials; ART only affects a 9 mile stretch of Central and millennials use their own vehicles to go to work all over the city and not just up and down Central.
15th lie: This is the Mayor’s project and there is nothing the city council can do to stop the project; The City Council could have voted not to fund the project and has funded the construction of the project with at least $13 million in revenue bonds.
16th lie: There is no need to put the project to a public vote; Albuquerque historically has always put major capital improvement projects to a public vote.
17th lie: Congress will approve the $69 million-dollar grant; The grant is in serious jeopardy and congressional committees have cut $20 million dollars from the grant with no guarantee that it will be mad up in next year’s budget resulting in Albuquerque having to identify additional funding sources to makeup for the shortfall.
18th lie: The $129 million dollar project will have long term economic development benefits and will create jobs; The project is nothing more that a single construction project that only benefits the construction industry for a short term of a year.
19th lie: The project has already generated millions in economic development; The Berry Administration is taking credit for millions of dollars of construction projects that were permitted and planned long before the ART Bus project saying the new construction is because of ART.
20th lie: Mayor Berry proclaims the project is a “world class” transportation project per Berry; It is a nine mile, $129 million bus route. A world class transportation project costs billions of dollars like Denver’s and Phoenix’s light rail systems.
Stay tuned for more lies from the City Hall Liar’s Club.