Wolf in ART’s Clothing
With deference to the Acorn TV series "800 Words," a big bad wolf has come to our town. Its name is ART, an unfortunate acronym for Albuquerque Rapid Transit. As Mary Ann Weems recently pointed out, “art no longer brings to mind beauty and creativity formerly associated with our city but rather destruction, anti environment, anti-business efforts replacing democracy and people with hardware and hardscape.” Did this come about in response to the citizens' demands for better transportation? No. It is a concoction by politicians who invented it as a “solution” to a problem that did not exist in order to obtain government funding. Given our actual problems, City Hall should never have been considering this type of federally funded project in the first place, but instead should have been seeking money to fight crime and increase budgets of the DA's office and police force.
Albuquerque is no longer a safe place to live. The purpose of government is to serve and protect the people, not stand in the way of their enjoyment of their daily lives. We are the government! Today, “the inmates are running the asylum” where our dysfunctional city government is concerned. While crime continues to escalate across the city our government has focused its time, money and energy on ART, a project which has upended the lives of thousands, forced businesses to close or partially shut down and reduced the income of those who have so far been fortunate enough to survive this invasion. City Hall has no right to do this for any reason. With the exception of the DA's office and the police department, which are doing their jobs despite a lack of support on all fronts, the government is not functioning. The big bad wolf is running the show while the sheep are herded out of the way with no say about the things affecting their daily lives.
The existing bus routes on Central are currently served by oversized, out-of-scale, graffiti-covered (the City calls this “advertising”) buses running mostly empty. You can verify this by visiting one of your favorite restaurants (if it's still open) on Central where you will see bus after bus with few or no riders! So why change the current system to an expensive, job-killing, business killing, environmentally insensitive “rapid” transit route? A case could be made that a truly responsive solution for Central would be to replace the currently giant buses with smaller, “shuttle-type” vehicles more in scale with the street. Eighteen miles (nine each way) of blacktop paving through the center of our city creates what amounts to a “heat sink” equivalent to the size of a freeway where greenery and people (remember the people?) once enjoyed functioning neighborhoods. ART required the killing and removal of more than 200 trees and other landscaping with the substitution of surfaces which will exacerbate the warming of our environment. Route 66 through Albuquerque as we knew it has been destroyed. Nob Hill (1916-2017 RIP) has been partitioned by a 100 foot-plus wide wasteland of asphalt, concrete and speeding (oops, I mean rapid) vehicles running down the center of the street facing each other head-on. The center island “idea” encourages jay-walking and will prove to be deadly eventually. If anyone other than a politician was researching what Central “wants” they would quickly have realized that if anything the buses should be relocated, not the people! The ART “solution” means that the majority of the roadway is being reserved for vehicles which are not there! The buses occupy these lanes only momentarily, leaving an empty road most of time while the cars (and again, those pesky people) are stranded in traffic jams on either side of the bus-only lanes.
Whenever “design” is imposed on people in a manner that does not make sense, they will rebel. There is no doubt that even with the rising crime and other serious problems the police are dealing with, they will now be expected by City Hall to take actions to stop people (out of frustration) from making “illegal” turns and driving in a bus-only lane imposed by a “design” which is not responsive to our lives and our use of Central Avenue. Albert Einstein once said, "Our age can best be characterized by the phrase; perfection of means—confusion of aims.” ART is a great example of what he meant. ()