Thursday, January 11, 2018

ART Boondoggle Gets Readers Fuming; They Rage, Vent And Joke Over Epic Mismanagement, Plus: NM Water Wars And Latest Heinrich Senate Ranking  

It is one of the most outrageous publicly financed boondoggles in city history--perhaps state history--so it's no wonder readers are fuming over the revelations about the incompetence that surrounds ART, the now stalled ABQ Central Avenue rapid bus project that the city has spent $135 million on. No need for further ado, Vox Populi is rarin' to go and Jim McClure starts us off:

Joe, there may be an upside to the ART fiasco. ABQ Mayors seem to get this inexplicable compulsion to build transit systems. Marty Chavez wanted a streetcar and Berry almost got his electric bus. Perhaps there’s something in the water at City Hall.  Confronting the ART fiasco may enable Mayor Keller to get the public-transportation bug out of his system, kind of like a vaccination. He certainly will find things to build during his term, as mayors do, but probably will stay away from fanciful transit projects. 

Longtime reader Mick writes:

How about a list of the contractors on the (F)ART project? And maybe a list of Mayor RJ's campaign contributors. Might be interesting. And where have RJ's directors landed after fleeing from City Hall? I'm just askin'.

Reader John writes:

Hello Joe, here is my two cents on ART.  The contractors should be sued into bankruptcy, the design engineers sued, the project engineer for the city fired, the project mgr. for the city fired and the project inspectors for the city fired. All those who patted themselves on the back for how well the project was proceeding should be fired. But as we all know none of this will happen and all of us who said "told you so" will pick up the tab for this gross incompetence. Last word, Joe: MOVIDA!

Melanie Majors writes:

Joe, Why is the city advertising ART on billboards? Saw it on one of those electronic billboards when coming into town. “Central is Open” and the big ART logo.

They may have to take that down soon, Melanie, because at least two of the ART intersections need to be reconfigured, according to the city, and that is going to cause more traffic headaches on Central.

Abinash Achrekar MD writes:

My wife and I are professionals with a young son living downtown. I'm a professor of Cardiology at the University. We are so frustrated with the year of construction that has resulted in a loss of businesses and continuity in our community due to ART. My wife had a fantastic idea and I was curious of your thoughts.

At least the Stations from Old Town to East Nob Hill could be turned into small parquitos--little parks that have been experimented with in cities like Salt Lake City and Denver. One of the ART bus lanes could be used for bike traffic and maybe the other for pedestrians. In fact the city may be able to rent the space to little coffee pagodas or tiny restaurants that one sees in cities like Austin.

No kidding? Interesting. . . .

Reader Bruce Shah scores the city council:

Joe - Gotta love our City Council as they run from the ART mess like a cat from the litter box. Particularly the oh-so-statesman-like Ken Sanchez. Perhaps we can "claw back" their salaries for failing to remotely exercise any oversight? And, while we are at it, see about eliminating the Berry/Perry pensions. 

For the record, City Councilor Klarissa Pena opposed the project as did Dan Lewis who is no longer on the council.

Reader John Gniady writes of his contact with electric car manufacturer Tesla:

While I’m sure you need another project like a new hole in your head, this strikes me as a nice new market for Tesla. As I’m sure you’re aware, the city of Albuquerque embarked on the first all-electric rapid transit corridor in the US about a year ago. With construction almost complete, there’s only one little problem, the electric buses don’t work. That’s where Tesla comes in like a white knight to save the day.

While it’s a tad early to give up on the original bus contractor, a Chinese company with a dubious name “Build Your Dreams,” that time is not that far away. As I see it, the electric drive train for Tesla’s newly announced semi-truck would be ideal. If there is anything I can do to facilitate this, don’t hesitate to ask. And I work for free :–)


An environmental reporter took a bite out of the representation the state has hired in a New Mexico-Texas landmark water rights case that was heard before the US Supreme Court this week:

Of the four parties, New Mexico was the only one to have a private attorney stand before the mahogany bench. Marcus Rael Jr. of Robles, Rael & Anaya in Albuquerque represented New Mexico; his former law partner, the New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, watched from the gallery. Rael may be politically connected, but he’s not a water attorney. And until Monday, he also lacked experience before the high court.

The Robles, Rael and Anaya firm is indeed politically connected, handling many cases for state and local governments. Dem State Auditor candidate and recent ABQ mayoral contender Brian Colón is associated with the firm. The state has so far spent $15 million on staff and legal fees in this critical water battle with Texas.


At the top of the '18 NM ticket, DC's Inside Elections ranks the US Senate race here "solid Democrat." Sen. Martin Heinrich is seeking a second, six year term. Republican Contractor Mick Rich is the sole GOP contender.

The ranking is not surprising, considering no NM US Senator has lost a re-election bid since 1982 when Jack Schmitt was ousted by Democrat Jeff Bingaman.

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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