An Open Letter to the Albuquerque City Council
Distinguished City Councilors,
I write in opposition to this proposed $93 million Paseo/I-25 interchange upgrade for a number of reasons. But as my dear mother taught me, when you criticize something, offer an alternative, which I will do.
First criticism—it’s unnecessary. New Mexico Business Weekly just listed the busiest intersections in Albuquerque. This one is 10th on the list. Second criticism—bad urban form and zero "place-making" or economic development beyond a construction contract for a few people. The design as contemplated does not create any value capture in terms of civic urbanism that supports social and business exchange. In short, just more suburban sprawl with ramps that just move traffic on down the road instead of building a real city. Third criticism—narrow focus toward the Westside commuter. This project only benefits a certain profile of citizen, and principally one or two Council districts, rather than being an investment in our larger community.
Suggested alternatives: 1) Look into the efficacy and lower cost of the Diamond Interchange being used in similar application in other states across the country. Make the intersection work better for a fraction of the cost. 2) A three-pronged approach to improving overall mobility and place-making in all nine Council districts, on all city arterials that are three or more lanes in each direction, by converting them to boulevards.
Albuquerque traffic signals are dumb and brainless, and uncoordinated with the prior or next signal on the street. The only cycle of our signals that relates to actual cars needing the signal are our left turns, not our through movements. Let's change that by having smart signalization read the traffic and cycle lights more quickly, so that cars are always moving through intersections, and drivers are spending less time sitting in traffic while no vehicles are going through the intersection. The latter happens 99 percent of the time at all lights. Smart signalization is being implemented in many other cities. Many of us in the industry believe that smart signalization will create excess capacity in these seven-lane roads, creating an unnecessary lane in each direction. What can we do with those two lanes?
The answer: urban forestry and bicycle tracks. If there is one thing our city needs, it's more shade and more beauty. Trees provide both, as well as many other lasting benefits, including adding value to adjacent businesses and homes. Mayor Clyde Tingley forested our city about 90 years ago—it's time for us to do this again. Bicycle tracks differ from bicycle lanes by being two-way, not one-way. There would be a bicycle track on both sides of major arterials—an engineering term as ugly as the roads themselves. The combination of trees and bicycle tracks would turn our very ugly and economically/functionally obsolete arterials into beautiful boulevards, a legacy for our citizens today, and those of the future. The transformation of properties along these boulevards is the future of development in our city. Time to get started!
A group of us have estimated that for $93 million, we could retrofit 50 to 100 miles of Albuquerque arterials in this manner, covering all nine Council districts.
If Albuquerque is to remain economically competitive, we need to be looking at better ways of doing things that improve quality of life for everyone, not just commuters in motor vehicles. With all due respect, the current plans for Paseo and I-25 are just more of the same obsessiveness about vehicle mobility that have created the ugly streets we are forced to drive every day while holding our collective noses. The result is a low-density city that has teeny-weeny economic and fiscal power per square mile.
An Open Letter to Governor Martinez
Dear Governor Martinez,
My name is Janice Devereaux. I live in Albuquerque and am a native New Mexican. New Mexico is the place I chose to live because I really do love this place and its people. I would like to congratulate you on being the first female Hispanic governor to address a political convention. Regardless of political ideologies, I believe it's important to recognize historic achievements because of the many barriers that purposely are thrown in our way.
I am writing to you today to talk about some of the things you mentioned in your speech. You said that President Obama hadn't kept his campaign promises. Well, I'd like to talk to you about some of your campaign promises. “Too many Americans are out of work,” is what you had to say at the RNC. Why is it only acceptable to talk about people not having jobs when we're talking about the other guy, but we aren't willing to talk about what's going on in our own backyard? One of your campaign promises was to spur job growth for me and my fellow New Mexicans, but the jobs seem to be leaving the state rather than chomping at the bit to get in. You laid the blame for economic stagnation right at President Obama's feet, yet you failed to mention the fact that neither you nor anyone in your party has been able to get any real kind of jobs package through the Legislature.
I love New Mexico and that's why I chose to make it my home. I grew up in Belen and later I went to high school in Albuquerque's South Valley. I am constantly reminded of just how New Mexican I really am by the people I care about the most, and I get absolutely sick and tired of people my age complaining about how there is nothing here for them. One of the reasons they feel there is nothing here for them is because we elect folks who talk a good deal about jobs and how they envision creating them, but when they get elected, somehow those folks forget their constituents need to be able to meet their basic needs. You talked about issues not being Democrat or Republican, and jobs is one of them. So then why can't we work to create jobs for New Mexicans so they can see why I and other folks chose to make this place our home?
Another one of your campaign promises was to ride into Santa Fe with your posse, round up the corrupt and send them riding off into the sunset. What did we get instead? Emailgate, shenanigans at the Secretary of State's Office, and members of your party making derogatory comments about not only my fellow New Mexicans but fellow Native Americans. You derided President Obama for not “bringing us together,” but somehow expect that behavior like this will? This is quite the double standard, because you haven't even come close. If you can take credit for creating a budget surplus, then you can accept responsibility for breaking your promises to create jobs and clean up corruption in this state because you've built that.
I hope you're serious about having honest debates about the issues we face, governor, because I look forward to fixing the problems of this great state.
“Cutting through the bullshit?” Cutting the cheese is more like it. The other day as I was perusing the self-aggrandizing, penny-ante moral outrage that makes up most of your letters column on any given week, I happened upon a cartoon by Eric J. Garcia [Opinion, "El Machete Illustrated," Aug. 30-Sept. 5], which seemed to very strongly suggest that the regrettably lowdown (but by no means illegal nor lethal) confluence of political and economic interests that profit from the enforcement of laws against drunk driving in fact represent a kind of conspiracy against the hapless would-be perpetrator of vehicular manslaughter. Your house cartoonist, who neglected to implicate the church, the Masons and international Zionism, practically gives the impression that it's a wonder these conjurers aren't handing out tractor keys, shotguns and gallon bottles of Old Crow over at Central and San Mateo. Seriously, how hard is it to not drink and drive? It's easier than not paying alimony!
Dear Alibi ,
In his article “Abroad in New Mexico,” [Opinion, Aug. 30-Sept. 5] Gene Grant’s push for more international students comes as a pleasant surprise. What is not so pleasant is the extortion so many such students undergo in contrast to American students getting the exact same education at the exact same college. For starters, foreign students are charged tuition at a rate several times that for Americans for the same courses. This rip-off occurs because hordes of third-world students are all google-eyed to somehow make it to America.
Even before they come, many are being ripped off by the application fees which are huge when dollars are computed as, say, rupees. Small private colleges struggling to survive find easy money in deciding in advance to take just a few foreign students from a hugely populated country like India but still accept a zillion applications just so they can keep all that application money; costs them almost nothing to deny. The burgeoning American diploma mills are especially suspect in this regard. Yet another rip-off is the much larger premium the foreign student has to pay for mandatory health insurance, this having to be proven even before they travel over.
Many from Asia are too poor to afford the high tuition, so they commit to working effectively as indentured servants for their research advisor, with income going to tuition. (This conduit is established oh-so-conveniently in a place like UNM, where the administrative budget is small, but the DOD/DOE research budget is huge.) Their long hours for this slavery has to be over and above maintaining full-time status, or they will be deported. They are then caught in a bind, for if they burn out too quickly and cut down on work hours, they may not earn enough to pay tuition. Even where a fellowship is granted, Asian students have been known to be coerced into grunt work as research assistants, while a white student with the same fellowship in the same lab has had no such requirement. In short, Gene, your approach to fill UNM coffers smacks of exploitative capitalism.
A Questionable Portrayal
[Opinion, “Abroad in New Mexico,” Aug. 30-Sept. 5] What would attract those inscrutable foreigners? How about more articles portraying them as a cash crop? Most people like to have a dollar value placed on their existence.
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