Thursday, January 12, 2006
ABQ Road Rage: Where's Pete, Jeff & Heather? Feds Rule The Roost While Workers Pay The Price; Mayor Marty's Montano Mess
One critical point has been missing from the wall-to-wall coverage over ABQ's latest road rage saga: Where the heck is New Mexico's high-powered congressional delegation? The bottleneck over making Montano Bridge in the city's North Valley four lanes instead of two is under renewed assault from the Feds, namely the Army Corp of Engineers. This as West Siders and others fume in clogged traffic trying to get to their jobs.
But the Army Corp is funded by the Congress, and the chairman of a key Senate subcommittee that holds much of the purse strings to that agency is none other than NM senior GOP Senator Pete Domenici. Does Mayor Marty have his phone number? Or Senator Bingaman's? Or Congresswoman Wilson's, who is running, in part, on her record of securing federal funding for the Coors-I-40 remodel?
The mayor, an ardent advocate for the bridge, a subject of debate for nearly 40 years, is threatening to sue if he is not again allowed to make this a four lane road. He began the process of making it four on Halloween only to be stymied by the Army Corp and its bureaucratic hurdles.
But the Mayor doesn't need to sue, he needs to call Domenici, or Domenici needs to call the Corp bosses. Heck, make it a conference call with Jeff and Heather on the line as well.
New Mexico returns its congressional delegation year after year, often with little debate. The power bestowed upon them by the electorate is not meant to wither on the vine, it is meant to be used. Will they get busy and use it?
EVEN MORE RAGE
And now the news that there is not enough money to make the also long-debated Paseo Del Norte West Side road extension four lanes. This, also in part, because the Army Corp has inserted itself into arguments that have been fully debated and resolved in favor of expanded bridges. Wasn't there an October 2005 election where a mayor and most city councilors were elected after strongly advocating four lanes for both Montano and Paseo? Or don't elections matter anymore?
Again, where is New Mexico's federal delegation? They can't be afraid of losing votes, can they? They get re-elected by huge margins. The pathetic federal response to Hurricane Katrina revealed a broken down federal bureaucracy. Will the long suffering commuters (mostly working families) of Albuquerque have to be helicoptered across the bridges like New Orleans refugees? Will Mayor Marty's legacy be another 30 year fight over expanding another bridge? It does not have to be, if our Washington representatives combine their muscle with the mayor's.
Environmentalists and bridge busters, please hold your fire. You have done your best. Montano and Paseo are the will of the people. There will be plenty of future road rage battles for you to engage in. But now is the time for power politics to implement the long standing will of the majority and let the working people of Albuquerque get on with their lives.
"Hello, Pete? Marty here..about that Army Corp budget..."
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2006
Not for reproduction without permission of the author