Friday, July 14, 2006

4th Street Corridor Study - Revised Date for EPC Hearing

The Environmental Planning Commission postponed its July 13 meeting and now will hear public input on the North 4th Street Corridor Study on Thursday, July 20 beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

North 4th Street Corridor Study - Public Comments Needed

A draft of the City's 4th Street Corridor Study has been published. This study, which came about primarily due to the Coalition's efforts and through the persistence of Councilor Debbie O'Malley, may be downloaded and viewed at http://www.cabq.gov/council/N4thStreetPlan.html.

The Environmental Planning Commission will hold its first hearing of the North 4th Street Plan on Thursday, July 13th, at 7pm in the Plaza del Sol hearing room at 600 2nd Street NW in downtown Albuquerque. Each person will have 2 minutes to make their comments on the plan. The Coalition has submitted written comments to the EPC in a letter dated July 11, 2006. The text of that letter follows:

July 11, 2006

Environmental Planning Commission
City of AlbuquerquePlanning Department
600 2nd St. NW Albuquerque, NM 87103

Re: North 4th Street Redevelopment Study: Rank III Corridor Plan
Review Draft – June 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen:

The 4th Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition is happy to provide the following comments to the North 4th Street Redevelopment Study: Rank III Corridor Plan, Review Draft – June 2006 (the “Study”).

About the Coalition

Our Coalition was formed in 2003 by a group of concerned neighbors and business owners in the area bounded by Douglas MacArthur Road to the south, Solar Road to the north, 2nd Street to the east, and Los Poblanos Open Space to the west. In 2004 we held two “visioning workshops” which resulted in a Visioning Report for our area. The four goals articulated by our community are: (1) Traffic: Safe Vehicular Flow and Improved Transit; (2) Identity: Rural/Urban Character Preserved; (3) Pathways: Improved Pathways with Pedestrian, Bicycle and Equestrian Amenities; and (4) Revitalization: Commercial and Community Design & Development. Our Visioning Report may be viewed at (http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html.

As the first priority in our list of goals, our Coalition believes that the revitalization of 4th Street is essential to achieving our Vision. Because we were instrumental in obtaining support for the Study, we are happy to offer the following comments.

General Comments

§ The section of 4th Street described in the Study is approximately 4.3 miles in length. As such, this study was extremely ambitious. Planning Department Staff and the Consultant Team have done a good job of identifying the various “Character Zones” that exist along 4th Street.
§ With its dual historic designation (as part of El Camino Real and the pre-1937 Route 66), 4th Street has always played an important role in commerce. Unfortunately, its present condition reflects years of neglect and lack of planning. The Study correctly identifies the significant level of investment that will be required to revitalize 4th Street; however, the Study does not capture the long-term economic benefits (such as blight prevention, the increase in gross receipts revenue for the City, etc.) that will result from restoring 4th Street to its role as an area of significant commercial and residential activity.
§ The City’s Transit Department has identified 4th Street as a Major Transit Corridor. The roadway alignments presented in the Study may not fully account for this important use of 4th Street (see additional comment on the intersection of 4th & Montaño under Character Zones 4 and 5 below).
§ On page 4-56, the Study makes the assertion – without substantiation – that “If the entire distance of North Fourth Street were converted to two lanes of moving traffic . . . [it] would threaten the business viability of the street.” There are many examples throughout the country of roadways where lane reductions have actually led to much greater business activity. At a minimum, we believe the Study should have included examples of communities in which lane reduction and/or lane reconfiguration were successful, the reasons why these communities were successful, and an explanation of why such changes would be inappropriate for 4th Street.
§ Some of the maps in the Study are inconsistent and therefore confusing (see, e.g., the difference in zoning indicated on pages 4-25 and 4-26).

Character Zones 4 and 5

§ We fully support the proposed consolidation of eating areas in Zone 4 and the restriction on allowing any additional drive-through establishments in these Zones.
§ The Study correctly identifies the intersection at 4th Street & Montaño as “one of the most critical locations in the corridor” (page 4 -66). In our view, this critical intersection is not given adequate attention. The Study correctly recommends that the City not add additional turn lanes at this intersection (page 4 -70, item 10). Ironically (and sadly) those additional turn lanes currently are under construction and will undoubtedly undermine efforts to improve walkability and meaningful commercial activity within Zone 5.
§ Given the desirability to improve transit throughout the Study area as well as (i) the significant roles that can be played by 4th Street and by Montaño Road in moving people (not just cars) and (ii) the proximity of this key intersection to the RailRunner, the 4th & Montaño intersection should be designated as a Transit Oriented Development area. Similarly, zoning for the area surrounding Montaño Road and the railroad tracks just east of 2nd Street should also be designated for Transit Oriented Development.

Character Zone 6

§ Much of the area north of Montaño on the east side of 4th Street was recently added to the list of historically and culturally significant areas by the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Any changes to 4th Street in this area should reflect the significance of this area to Albuquerque and to the State.
§ We support many of the changes proposed for this Zone, including the importance of sidewalks (currently nonexistent) on the east side of 4th Street, the major pedestrian crossing at Grecian and 4th Street, consolidation of existing curb cuts and the use of alley ways. However, we are concerned that the proposed streetscape changes to 4th Street in this Zone do not fully address the desire of residents to make this area more pedestrian friendly by reducing the number of projected vehicle trips (see page 4-44) along this stretch of 4th Street.
§ In addition to the urgent need for sidewalks and other pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements in Zone 6, we fully support and agree with the desirability of revitalizing Guadalupe Plaza shopping center. Guadalupe Plaza has great potential to tie together the commercial revitalization of 4th Street with the residential areas surrounding it, provided zoning for this parcel does not permit drive-through establishments, gas stations, car washes, etc. It also has great potential for destination-oriented development due to its proximity to existing trails and the city-owned Los Poblanos Open Space to the west.
§ We believe that zoning on the east side of 4th Street in Zone 6 should be “General Mixed Use” but with the same restrictions on drive-through establishments as provided in “Mid-Range Community Mixed Use.”
§ We would like to see a portion of the lot on the northwest corner of Grecian and 4th Street (immediately adjacent to the existing Credit Union building) zoned as a City Park.
§ We are unclear why the proposed MRA was not extended northward to include all of Zone 6.

Through years of neglect and lack of planning, North 4th Street continues to decline. As a result, the City is losing valuable gross receipts tax dollars and the quality of life of those who live and work in the area continues to be adversely affected. The Study is a good and necessary first step. We want to express our sincere appreciation to the City Planning Department, the Consultant Team, and the North 4th Street Working Group for their hard work on this Study. We look forward to a date in the near future when specific actions are taken to revitalize this commercially, culturally and historically significant road.

Sincerely,

Steve Cogan, Chair
Christopher G. Kenny, Vice Chair

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

City to Attempt "End Run" Around Federal Process; Important Meeting at MRCOG on Janaury 12, 2006; Key State and Federal Contact Information

The City has called for a special meeting of the Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTB) of the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) this Thursday evening, January 12th, at 5:30 p.m. at MRCOG’s office, 809 Copper Avenue NW (public comment is at the beginning of the meeting, sign-up to speak). The City will be arguing to have the 2025 Regional Transportation Plan amended to allow four general-purpose lanes on Montano and/or will be arguing to have Montano removed from the 2025 plan on the basis that it is “not a regionally significant roadway”.

Our coalition continues to urge concerned citizens to express their feelings on this issue to the MTB and the federal transportation authorities (names and contacts below). Our letters and comments at previous MRCOG meetings have made a difference.

Some key talking points include:

1. As MRCOG’s own staff has repeatedly advised the MTB, utilizing Montano as part of a meaningful transit grid that focuses on moving people rather than on moving cars will bring far greater benefits to all of MRCOG’s member cities and counties than will an additional 2 lanes of single-occupancy vehicles on Montano.

2. The ability to use Montano as a transit corridor will be forever lost if the MTB permits the City to re-stripe now (either directly or by removing Montano’s “regionally significant” designation). It is simply unrealistic to accept the City’s legalistic assurances that they would be willing to revisit the issue of making Montano a transit facility at a future date; first, just look at their indifference to public input when it comes to Montano, and second, there aren’t any examples in the United States where general purpose lanes on a overly-congested roadway were taken away and replaced with transit – it simply hasn’t happened and wouldn’t happen on Montano.

3. The City simply cannot argue that in a metropolitan area with limited bridge crossings and with the explosion of growth on the West Side, that Montano is not “regionally significant.” The fact is that Montano is regionally significant, should remain in the 2025 MTP, and the City must be required follow the federally-mandated procedures for obtaining public input prior to amending the Plan. Using the City’s reasoning, we should remove every river crossing except the Interstates and Paseo del Norte from the regional transportation process on the basis of “not significant”.

4. The City’s “come hell or high water” approach to 4-laning Montano ignores that good faith work that citizens from both sides of the river engaged in recently, which presented a series of viable options (including the very realistic idea of using transit on Montano to connect the West Side to the new commuter rail line at Montano and the railroad tracks) that haven’t yet been fully explored and which, according to independent analysis, will do far more to relieve regional transportation congestion than the City’s unimaginative, 4 general-purpose lane proposal. These options deserve to be explored, particularly given the fact that the urgency for additional lanes on Montano will be substantially dissipated with the opening of the new Coors/I-40 interchange (the City and Councilors from the West Side have argued that Montano was "critical" during the Coors/I-40 construction; since that construction is nearly completed, that argument is irrelevant).

5. The City violated the public trust by its failure to follow the federal process originally. The City knew this process was required prior to paving Universe Boulevard in the middle of the night, and they also knew this process was required prior to re-striping Montano in the middle of the night. This violation of the public trust should not be sanctioned by the MTB by allowing the City to pull an end-run around that process now.

Below is a list of the key federal and state contacts who are or may become involved in the resolution of this issue. Please contact each one of these individuals (and encourage others to as well) to express your concerns. You can also find a list of the MTB members at MRCOG's web site (www.mrcog-nm.gov).

J. Don Martinez
Division Administrator
Federal Highway Administration
604 West San Mateo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
JohnDon.Martinez@fhwa.dot.gov

Joseph W. Maestas
Planning & Program Management Engineer
Federal Highway Administration
604 West San Mateo Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 820-2026
Joseph.Maestas@fhwa.dot.gov

Robert C. Patrick
Regional Administrator
Federal Transit Administration, District VI
819 Taylor Street
Room 8A36
Ft. Worth, TX 76102
(817) 978-0550
robert.patrick@fta.dot.gov

Peggy Crist
Community Planner
Federal Transit Administration
819 Taylor Street
Room 8A36
Ft. Worth, TX 76102
(817) 978-0550
Peggy.Crist@fta.dot.gov

Jean E. Manger
Regulatory Project Manager
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Albuquerque District
4101 Jefferson Plaza, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87109-3435
(505) 342-3216
jean.e.manger@spa02.usace.army.mil
(Note: Ms. Manager has the primary responsibility for reviewing and approving or denying the City's request to amend the original 404 permit that limited the bridge span to 2 driving lanes; the City has requested that the Corps amend this permit to allow up to 4 driving lanes)

Peggy Wade
Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 Air Planning Section
1445 Ross Avenue
Dallas, TX 75202
(214) 665-7247
wade.peggy@epa.gov

Rhonda Faught
Cabinet Secretary
New Mexico Department of Transportation
1120 Cerrillos Road
P.O. Box 1149
Santa Fe, NM 87504-1149
(505) 827-5110
rhonda.faught@nmshtd.state.nm.us

Katherine Slick
State Historic Preservation Officer
New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs/Historic Preservation Division
228 East Palace Avenue
Santa Fe, NM 87501
(505) 827-6320
katherine.slick@state.nm.us

Mark Sprick
Transportation Planning Services Manager
Mid-Region Council of Governments
809 Copper Avenue, N.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 724-3633
msprick@mrcog-nm.gov

Chris Blewett
Director of Planning and Transportation Services
Mid-Region Council of Governments
809 Copper Avenue, N.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 247-1750
cblewett@mrcog-nm.gov

Thursday, December 22, 2005

A Vision for Montaño: 2020

The following was written by Pauline Sargent and read to the Metropolitan Transportation Board of the Mid-Region Council of Governments on Monday, December 19, 2005. It is reprinted here with the author's permission:

Picture This…

The year is 2020. It’s October and the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande are shimmering gold. Sandhill cranes can be heard warbling their calls from the fields near the river. The water is flowing peacefully under the Montaño Bridge and people from all over the state are on the bridge: they are sitting on benches, walking, pushing strollers, biking, and riding their horses along the wide paths on either side of the light rail tracks that run down the center of the bridge. Our long awaited goal has finally been achieved. The Montaño Light Rail Corridor is completed and declared a success.

In 2015 the last personal motorized vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, whatever) crossed the bridge. Since then, only non-motorized vehicles, pedestrians, and natural gas powered Rapid Ride buses have been allowed on the bridge. The ridership on the buses slowly but surely increased since they began running in 2008 and the Park&Ride lots are now full Monday through Friday. With the increase in public transportation throughout the city, commuters can park on the west side and ride quickly to their jobs on the east side and in downtown Albuquerque. With the removal of personal motorized vehicles the pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the bridge has increased exponentially. Walks along the newly established acequia trails that wind through the valley neighborhoods to the Bosque and to the bridge are common weekend pastimes. On weekday evenings dog walkers, runners, and bicyclists are everywhere. Tourists come by the busload to the Rio Grande Park to walk through the Bosque and out onto the river over the Montaño Bridge. They go home wishing that their hometown had the same wonderful greenways that make Albuquerque such a great place to live.

But today – October of 2020 – the bridge is even better. The buses have gone and the only sound of vehicles crossing the bridge is the swoosh of the light rail as it pulls into one of the stations at either end. In the middle of the bridge, between trains, the only traffic one can hear is the distant, muffled roar of I-40 and Paseo del Norte. The sounds of the river dominate. Birds. Water flowing, Kids playing. Bicycles passing. The occasional horse clip clopping along the path. The air is sweet and the sky in that very special blue that only New Mexico in October can boast of. It is a wonderful day for the people of Albuquerque and for our growing appreciation of the great, the grand, Rio Grande.
*****
I would add: In the middle of the bridge there is a plaque that reads: "We are grateful to the forward thinking city and state leaders of 2005/2006 who had this vision and made it happen." Signed: The People of Albuquerque.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Speaking Out to the MRCOG

The Metropolitan Transportation Board (MTB) of the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG) will hold a public meeting at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 16, 2005 at MRGC's office (809 Copper Avenue, N.W. in Albuquerque). On the agenda will be the MTB's decision on whether to allow the City of Albuquerque to amend the 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) to provide for four general purpose lanes of traffic on the non-bridge portion of Montaño Road between Coors Boulevard and 4th Street.

Readers of this blog are encouraged to share their thoughts and opinions on whether the MTB should approve the City's amendment request to the MTP during the public comment period of the MTB meeting. If you cannot attend the MTB meeting, please forward your comments to Mr. Mark Sprick, MRCOG Transportation Planning Services Manager, via email at msprick@mrcog-nm.gov or via U.S. Mail at 809 Copper, N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87102. You may also wish to carbon copy City Councilor Debbie O'Malley at domalley@cabq.gov and Mayor Chavez at mayor@cabq.gov.

The Los Alamos Addition Neighborhood Association has weighed in on the subject. Below, reprinted with LAANA's permission, is a letter to the MRCOG from Ron Gedrim, LAANA's President:

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Dear Mid-Region Council of Governments,

After all the public effort to find reasonable solutions to the Montaño corridor, we are back to where the Chavez administration wanted to be in the first place: headed in the direction of four general purpose lanes, without serious consideration of past precedent, existing plans, public input, or of the Council funded Hall engineering study; without thought given to the long-range consequences of moving people and not just cars; without due concern for the public's safety and welfare. Favoring unbridled development and the single occupant automobile cannot be sustained in our region. A majority of voters opted for an alternative to the Chavez administration; the mayor was elected without a mandate. And now, because of the continuing disregard for public input and due process, the mayor has jeopardized federal transportation dollars and brought the embarrassment of possible administrative, civil, and criminal penalties to our city.

The Mayor's actions on the Montaño corridor have made a mockery of the 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. He does as he wants and, when stopped, rationalizes with weak explanations. How can the city say that it had planned to ask for a change in the transportation plan but was waiting for a City Council study to be released in the fall, when it acted in total defiance of the City Council and the Council's taxpayer funded studies? How can it restripe in defiance of MRCOG and now say that the restriping wasn't "significant to the transportation plan?" What this administration can't achieve by arm-twisting and fiat, it tries by spin. To capitulate to the Mayor's shameless and underhanded tactics is to be complicit in them. Please don't fall into that political trap.

Our neighborhood asks that MRCOG take a reasoned stand that looks beyond development-motivated politics, that places the health, safety, and welfare of the Albuquerque region above all else. We need a forward seeking Montaño corridor that emphasizes the needs of citizens of both sides of the Rio Grande either in honoring previous two-lane agreements, or at most a corridor that includes a transit lane or single reversible HOV lane that connects to a rational, expanding regional system to move people and not just cars. We need a Montaño corridor that achieves walkability, pedestrian safety, and pollution mitigation; a Montaño corridor that intersects with a revitalized and historic Fourth Street corridor.

Please help us to regain a democratic, rational, and forward-looking approach to the Montaño corridor that will truly meet our citizen's future needs. Do not amend the 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan to allow the re-striping of Montaño Road from two lanes to four lanes.

Thank you,

Ronald J. Gedrim, President
PS: Our neighborhood is located immediately northeast of the Montaño/4th Street intersection.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Public Hearings Concerning Montano

Tonight beginning at 5 p.m. the City Council will be hearing presentations from the authors of several recent studies concerning the Montano corridor. In addition, the Council is expecting public comment concerning the recent finding by the Federal Highway Administration and the Evironmental Protection Agency that the City of Albuquerque violated procedural requirements that should have been taken before the Montano c0rridor was re-striped. Individuals who would like to express their concerns should sign up for the "Public Comment" section of tonight's meeting. To sign up, come to the Vincent E. Griego City Council Chambers at City Hall before 5:15 p.m. and notify Council staff (who sit immediately to the left of the podium). You will be given 2 minutes to state your concerns to the Council at the beginning of the meeting. You need not remain for the rest of the meeting.

Individuals might also be interested in commenting on the City's proposal to amend the 2025 Metropolitan Transportation Plan. That plan, which governs federally-funded roadways within the Albuquerque area as well as those "minor arterials" (including Montano) that have been deemed to be "significant" for the area's transportation grid, requires that the Mid-Region Council of Governments approve any changes to the roads identified in the Plan. The City has asked the MRCOG to amend the 2025 plan to permit 4 general purpose lanes on Montano between Coors and 4th Street. It is the fact that the City unilaterally re-striped most of the corridor (except for the bridge span itself - see below) without first gaining approval from MRCOG that has caused the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to threaten to cut off all federal funds for roads and transit to all MRCOG members, including the City of Albuquerque.

Prior to making its final determination about whether to approve the City's request to amend the 2025 Plan concerning Montano, MRCOG is required to engage in a public comment period. That period began on November 15 and will continue until the MRCOG's Metropolitan Transportation Board meets on December 15 to make its final decision. Intersted parties may forward their views on this matter to Mr. Mark Sprick, Transportation Planning Services Manager for MRCOG, at 724-3633 or via email at msprick@mrcog-nm.gov. You may also wish to contact Mr. J. Don Martinez, Regional Division Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, in Santa Fe at 505-820-2021 or via email at johndon.martinez@fhwa.dot.gov.

The City has also requested to amend the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 Permit, which covers the bridge span over the Rio Grande. The City believes that the permit is no longer valid or, if valid, the City wants the permit to be amended to allow 4 general purpose lanes over the bridge. The Corps is NOT required to hold public hearings on the City's amendment request but may elect to do so if there is sufficient public outcry for such hearings. The individual responsible for reviewing the City's 404 Permit amendment request is Jean E. Manger, Regulatory Project Manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Ms. Manger may be reached at 342-3216 or via email at Jean.E.Manger@spa02.usace.army.mil.

Because the Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are all federal agencies, individuals may wish to contact Rep. Heather Wilson in Albuquerque at 346-6781 or via email at http://wilson.house.gov/Contact.asp; Senator Pete Domenici at 346-6791 or via email at http://domenici.senate.gov/contact/contactform.cfm; and Senator Jeff Bingaman at 346-6601 or via email at senator_bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov.

State officials may also be very concerned about the very real prospect of losing federal highway and transit dollars as a result of the City's actions. Among those who should be contacted are Senator Dede Feldman at 242-1997 or via email at dedefeld@aol.com; Representative Edward Sandoval at (505) 986-4840 or via email at Edward.sandoval@nmlegis.gov; New Mexico Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught at (505) 827-5110 or via email at Rhonda.faught@nmshtd.state.nm.us; and Governor Bill Richardson (who's large highway and construction projects, including the Commuter Rail project, are in jeopardy) at (505) 476-2200 or via email at http://www.governor.state.nm.us/emailchoice.php?mm=6.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Montano Reports/Important City Council Meeting/Corps of Engineers

The City Council will be discussing the re-striping of Montano Road to 4 general purpose lanes at its meeting in the Council Chambers on Monday, November 21 at 5 p.m. Please attend this important meeting to express your concerns about the manner in which the mayor re-striped the corridor and about the effects the 4 general purpose lane configuration is having on residents and businesses in our area.

Rick Hall, who’s firm (HPE Consultants) produced a report suggesting an alternative configuration to Montano Road, is scheduled to speak at this meeting. You can review or download the studies conducted on Montano, as well as the Citizen’s Advisory Committee’s analysis of these reports, at http://www.cabq.gov/council/montanocorrstudies.html.

If you have email addresses and/or phone numbers of folks who would be interested in making their voices heard at this meeting, call or email them with this information.

In addition, those concerned with the fact that the City has filed a formal request with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to amend the current 404 permit (which covers the bridge span and limits the bridge to 1 lane in each direction) should consider writing to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The officer reviewing the City’s request to amend the existing 404 permit is Jean E. Manger, Regulatory Project Manager for the Albuquerque District of the Army Corps of Engineers. Ms. Manager may be reached via email at Jean.E.Manger@spa02.usace.army.mil or by phone at 342-3216. Please be aware that the Corps is NOT REQUIRED to hold public hearings before reaching a decision on the City’s request to amend the permit to allow 4 general purpose lanes across the bridge. However, if the Corps receives significant pressure from the public, it may decide to require the City to hold public meetings on the issue first. Please encourage Ms. Manger to hold off on any decision until the Corps and/or the City have held these meetings or have otherwise received meaningful input from affected stakeholders.

Thanks for your active participation in helping to make our area a better place to live and work!

Friday, August 12, 2005

More Than a Bucket of Paint

On Tuesday, August 9, approximately 75 citizens attended a City public meeting to review design options and offer input on the future of the Montaño Road corridor and the 4th Street & Montaño intersection. Many expressed their strong belief that the important issues of safety, walkability, ingress/egress, environmental quality, public transit, economic revitalization and smooth traffic flow, must all be factored into the City’s plans for the area.

The 4th Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition is encouraged by Hall Planning and Engineering’s presentation and by the comments that were aired by City residents. Rick Hall’s initial recommendations included bus/high occupancy vehicle dedicated lanes, reduced lanes on 4th Street to enhance walkability and economic vitality, an improved local neighborhood street grid, grade-level pedestrian crossings on Montaño and acequia preservation. He agreed to further investigate several citizen suggestions, including a single, reversible bus/HOV lane.

Mr. Hall’s perspective is long overdue and stands in sharp contrast to the politically popular but foolhardy “solutions” advanced to date. Unlike the less imaginative proposals put forward previously, Mr. Hall has suggested an option that envisions Montaño as a vital public transit link from the West Side to important north-south transit options east of the river. Under this type of scenario, a multi-modal Montaño corridor would enable more people to access jobs, restaurants, shopping and the performing arts throughout the city, including the Cottonwood Mall, the shops at Coors & Montaño, the revitalized (and pedestrian-friendly) 4th Street District, Downtown, Uptown, the Jefferson business corridor, and even Santa Fe via rail–all in a manner that could be as fast as, or faster than, taking a single-occupancy car.

For those who argue that such a vision for Montaño would be too costly, consider this: in contrast to the four general purpose lane “bucket of paint” proposal, transit options along 4th Street and throughout the Montaño corridor significantly increase the City’s ability to leverage state and federal funds, thereby shifting financial burden off the backs of local taxpayers. Moreover, the long-term societal, economic and environmental costs of building roads for single-occupancy vehicles far outweigh the construction costs associated with more transit-friendly options. Given the constraints at the Coors, 4th, and 2nd Street intersections, Hall’s suggestions will get more people across the bridge than two more lanes of parked cars. There simply is no way to build roads fast enough to keep up with demand. Just look at the pain experienced by residents of Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Advocating visionary solutions for Montaño and the 4th Street area certainly is not fashionable or politically expedient. Yet we are confident that citizens from both sides of the Rio Grande will assist Mr. Hall in developing imaginative, practical recommendations that will benefit us all.

Acting on these recommendations – and demonstrating true, visionary leadership for our city – will require more than a bucket of paint.
The next Montaño public meeting will be Tuesday, August 30th, 7 p.m., at the Taylor Ranch Community Center. We encourage all who are interested in working together for a better Albuquerque to attend this important meeting.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

General Meeting Set for April 30, 2005 to Discuss Next Steps, Possible Charette; Important City Council Vote on May 2, 2005

We hope you can join us at our next general meeting, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 30 from 1 - 3 p.m. at St. Michael and All Angel's Episcopal Church on Montaño just west of 4th Street. A lot has happened since we published our Community Visioning Report last fall. We'd like to bring you up to date on what's been going on and where we'd like to go from here. There are a number of significant opportunities for improving our area and influencing City Hall, so please plan on attending.

Among the issues we will be discussing is the possibility of conducting a design Charette for our area. What is a Charette? It is a concentrated design process. In our case it will define the future of the 4th Street corridor between Douglas MacArthur and Solar Roads, based upon our vision and the urban design possibilities that experts will help explain to us. Over a period of days (perhaps two weekends with some evenings in between) we will clarify our ideas which the experts will put into drawings and plans that everyone can understand and agree upon. We know what we want and need; experts will help us understand how we can bring our ideas into reality, based upon what has worked in other areas like ours around the country.

Please mark the date on your calendar. We'll see you on April 30!

(P.S. - If you can't attend this meeting but would like to know how you can become more involved in the Coalition's work, please contact Steve Cogan, Chairman of the Coalition, at 350-4513 or via email at 4thStreet@integrity.com).

Important City Council Vote on Monday, May 2

The City Council will hear competing bills from Councilors O'Malley and Cadigan on Monday, May 2 at 5 p.m. in the City Council chamber. Significantly, Councilor Cadigan's bill is designed to overturn the court-imposed injunction put in place last fall when the New Mexico district court ruled that the City could not proceed with reconfiguring Montaño Road to four lanes. The court enjoined the City from moving forward, citing several City Council resolutions that restrict Montaño to two lanes of general purpose traffic. If Cadigan's bill passes, the City could move to lift the injunction and proceed with its plans to re-stripe the Montaño corridor. Councilor O'Malley's resolution would require that several steps be completed before the Council could consider re-striping the corridor.

WE NEED YOUR PRESENCE AT THE MAY 2 CITY COUNCIL MEETING!!! A couple of members of our Coalition will be signing up to speak on behalf of Councilor O'Malley's bill and against Councilor Cadigan's resolution. You do not need to speak at the meeting (though all are welcome to do so), but it would be very helpful if we could ask our members to stand up while we address the Council. We've been assured by Councilor O'Malley that a large presence at the Council meeting does have an effect on how the Councilors vote, so please come if you possible can. (Unfortunately, we can't guarantee the exact time at which we will be invited to speak to the Council).

Saturday, January 22, 2005

O'Malley Introduces Council Study; Cadigan Continues to Press for Overturning Prior Council Resolutions; Your Help Needed!!

Councilor O'Malley and the Administration have worked out a political deal that allows the Mayor's override of Councilor O'Malley's previous legislation (which called for an independent study of the 4th Street & Montaño intersection) to stand. In return, the Mayor has pledged not to interfere with a new resolution, introduced by Councilor O'Malley last Wednesday, that will allow the City Council to fund and oversee an independent study of the intersection. That resolution will be voted on by the Council at its February 7 meeting. We encourage Coalition members to come to that meeting and speak on behalf of O'Malley's bill.

While we support the Councilor's new resolution, we also need Coalition members to speak out forcefully against Councilor Cadigan's pending resolution, which will be voted on by the Council at the February 23rd City Council meeting. That resolution would rescind all prior Council resolutions concerning Montaño. If these prior resolutions are rescinded, the current injunction preventing the city from re-striping most of the Montaño corridor could immediately be lifted, and the Mayor would move to re-stripe the corridor to four lanes right away. The effect of this combination of events would mean that the independent study of the intersection contemplated by Councilor O'Malley's current legislation, would be conducted in the context of a four-lane Montaño corridor. Since it is almost inconceivable that anyone studying the intersection would recommend "rolling back" the corridor to 2 lanes, this would effectively mean that the options coming out of the study would all include a four-lane corridor. And while our Coalition does not take the position that Montaño should never be a four-lane corridor, it is our position that the study should be conducted while Montaño is a two-lane facility. Only in this context may the analysis include ALL options (two-lane and four-lane) that might be consistent with our Community Visioning Report. As a community, we will then be in a position to evaluate which option best serves our entire city. To effectively foreclose any of the options by prematurely re-striping the corridor before the study is conducted would be a big mistake.

Please take the time to contact all of the members of the City Council and encourage them to allow us to identify ALL possible options before Montaño is re-striped. We all want the study to be done quickly (but thoroughly) and to include the elements of our Community Visioning Report. Then we can decide how best to utilize the Montaño corridor. Urge them to vote AGAINST Councilor Cadigan's resolution on February 23.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Journal Reaffirms Its Support for Independent Study

For the second time in the past several weeks, The Albuquerque Journal today reaffirmed its endorsement of Councilor O'Malley's call for an independent study of the Fourth Street and Montaño intersection (http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/2OP1-19.HTM). Mayor Chavez has vetoed the City Council's resolution calling for an independent study, saying that the city should conduct the study "in-house."

Mayor Chavez has made abundantly clear that he wants to separate the issue of Fourth and Montaño from the other corridor study that he has said he wants to conduct for Fourth Street. His actions also affirm that he is willing to defy the City Council in order to open the corridor up to four lanes as early as possible, without regard to the elements of our Community Visioning Report (see link in the right hand column of this blog). Municipal Development Director Ed Adams has repeatedly suggested that there is only a minimal relationship between what happens at the intersection of Fourth and Montaño and the economic impacts to the surrounding area.

The Mayor's desire to control the Fourth and Montaño intersection study comes not from his purported desire to save the city money, but rather from his need to control what happens at the intersection (i.e., create a four lane corridor regardless of any other considerations from our Community Visioning Report) and to control the timing of when those "improvements" occur (i.e., prior to the mayoral election this fall in order to appease his West Side political base).

A study is only as good as the scope given to the entity that conducts the study. If the Mayor controls the study, he will direct the person(s) responsible to come up with a four lane option that can be implemented prior to the mayoral election (or at least substantially completed by then). This completely defeats the work done by hundreds of Albuquerqueans on both sides of the river who are attempting to craft solutions for the Fourth Street and Montaño Area that are consistent with our published Community Visioning Report. The Mayor and the City Council need to exercise the political courage to do what's right for the long-term best interests of our city: conduct an independent study that includes in its scope the key elements of our Visioning Report. Only then will Albuquerqueans have faith in the options recommended by the study. Only then will we have a better idea of what's truly possible. Only then will we see options that include better traffic flow AND the opportunity for meaningful revitalization of Fourth Street (the oldest commercial road in North America).

We encourage you to tell the Mayor and the City Council what The Albuquerque Journal (on two separate occasions), The Albuquerque Tribune, and several state legislators have already stated publicly: let's conduct an independent evaluation of this intersection so that we can make intelligent, long-term, visionary decisions for our community. Let's seize the opportunity to have the Fourth Street and Montaño corridors unite, not divide, our city.

Full Text of Albuquerque Journal Letter; Your Support Needed To Override the Mayor's Veto

The Albuquerque Journal has printed the full version of a letter written by Coalition Vice Chairman Chris Kenny that appeared in last week's Journal. The full text version appears in today's West Side Journal. Subscribers to the print version who have a password to the online Journal may view the article at the following link: http://www.abqjournal.com/west/opinion/292573westoped01-19-05.htm. The full version also appears at an earlier post on this blog.

We need your help! Please try to come to the City Council meeting tonight (Wednesday) at 5 p.m. and/or send e-mails of support to all the city councilors. Ask them to override the Mayor’s veto of the independent study resolution passed by the City Council last month and ask them to support Debbie’s bill. The comprehensive study is the only way we are going to get attention paid to our concerns--the impact of proposed lane changes on Montaño residents and the impact on 4th Street revitalization. Despite some Westsiders’ views, it is also the only way the city will get a really better intersection that will benefit commuters. This study is all about the possibilities of what can be done to make Albuquerque a better city for everyone. Our calls for such a study have been endorsed by State Representative Ed Sandoval, Senator Dede Feldman, The Albuquerque Journal, The Albuquerque Tribune, and by a majority of the City Council. The Mayor seems to be the true roadblock at this point. The Mayor and his staff are putting a great deal of pressure on the Council to change their position on the independent study and to support his veto. Please urge them to stand up for what's right for our city and let them know how much we appreciate their support of an independent study of the area. They need to hear from you and to know that we are grateful for their support!

E-mail addresses are: mgomez@cabq.gov; domalley@cabq.gov; egriego@cabq.gov; bwinter@cabq.gov; mcadigan@cabq.gov; mheinrich@cabq.gov; smayer@cabq.gov; cloy@cabq.gov; tcummins@cabq.gov

Getting to Council chambers is really pretty easy. Take Martin Luther King Jr. west from I-25 or west from 2nd Street. Take the left lane and go into the parking under civic plaza. The chambers are in the City/County building on the west side of the plaza.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Mayor Vetoes Independent Study Bill

Claiming that a study of the Fourth Street and Montaño intersections could be done "in house," Mayor Martin Chavez vetoed Councilor Debbie O'Malley's bill calling for an independent study of the intersection. Councilor O'Malley's bill, which passed by a 7-2 vote (Councilors Cadigan and Loy voted against O'Malley's bill), would have required that the intersection be analyzed by an independent third party. http://www.abqjournal.com/news/metro/291800metro01-18-05.htm.

Unfortunately, our Mayor does not like things to be done without his complete control. A study done under the direction of anyone in Mayor Chavez's employment has a certain outcome. In addition, having this study under the supervision of an individual (Municipal Development Director Ed Adams) who maintains that there is only a minimal relationship between the intersection and the economic impacts to the surrounding business community, is a joke. Why bother? Apparently, this Administration knows what's best for we "unenlightened" citizens, so much so that they never consulted with anyone concerning their latest proposals for a four-lane Montaño corridor (this despite our repeated requests to be involved and to share the elements of our Community Visioning Report with the Administration).

We urge everyone to contact members of the City Council and urge them to support Councilor O'Malley's veto override. We demand an independent analysis that will provide meaningful options consistent with our community's own stated vision for itself. What in the world is this Administration so afraid of, unless they're concerned that they won't be able to deliver a four lane Montaño corridor (irrespective of our input or economic revitalization concerns) to the Mayor's West Side political base in advance of the upcoming mayoral election this fall? Let's toss aside the politics as usual and identify some meaningful options for Albuquerque. And let's do so quickly.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Residents Speak Out At Public Forum; Cadigan Endorses Continuous Flow Intersection at 4th Street

The City of Albuquerque hosted a meeting at the Convention Center last evening to discuss the City's currently proposed options for re-striping the Montaño corridor. Despite the Coalition's repeated requests to be an active participant in any proposed redesign efforts and to engage an independent study of the area, the City kept our Coalition out of the process. A representative from Wilson Engineering presented their four proposed realignment options for the Montaño corridor, none of which included any of the principles articulated in our Community Visioning Report (www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html).

This fact can't be blamed on Wilson Engineering. After all, a contractor simply does what the client asks it to do. In this case, the City told Wilson to come up with various options for the Montaño corridor. But Wilson was told to limit the scope of its evaluation to those options that would permit Montaño to go to 4 lanes, without any consideration for the principles articulated in our Visioning Report and without regard to the negative impacts to our area.

Our Coalition has repeatedly said that whatever happens along the Montaño corridor, a complete reconfiguration of the intersection at Fourth Street - one that permits free traffic flow and that helps promote economic revitalization - is vital. The fact that the City simply ignorned our entreaties shows that they are not yet ready or willing to be serious about revitalizing our area and are intent on developing a poorly planned, high volume vehicle corridor.

On a bright note, Councilor Michael Cadigan, in his closing remarks, acknowledged the very real need for economic revitalization in our area. The Councilor stated for the record that the 4th Street intersection should be a "continuous flow" intersection and that the City should focus on finding design options for the 4th Street intersection that would permit free traffic flow as well as promote economic revitalization in our area. This marks a significant - and welcome - step forward in the Councilor's thinking. We hope he will actively pressure the Administration to endorse an independent study of the intersection so that options such as the continuous flow intersection, which we have repeatedly suggested to the Administration and which have been summarily dismissed by them every time, can be identified and explored.

We repeat our call for the City to act on Councilor O'Malley's recently passed legislation, which provides funding for an independent study of the 4th Street & Montaño intersection. The Mayor has vowed to veto this legislation. That would be a mistake. Councilor Cadigan's support of Councilor O'Malley would be a welcome message to the Mayor that the politics of "my way or the highway" will no longer be the way to get things done in our community. Please contact each member of the City Council and ask them to stand up to the Mayor's threatened veto of Councilor O'Malley's independent study bill. The people HAVE spoken. It's time the Administration listened.

Coalition Guest Column Encourages Unity Around 4th & Montaño Issue

A guest column by Chris Kenny, Vice Chairman of the Fourth Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition, appeared in the January 13, 2005 edition of The Albuquerque Journal under the headline "4th/Montaño Study Shot at Uniting City"
(http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/guest_columns/289399opinion01-13-05.htm). Due to space limitations, the Journal had to shorten the original letter. The full text appears here:

"On a recent Friday, without any notice to potentially affected residents or business owners, Mayor Martin Chavez, Councilor Michael Cadigan and Municipal Development Director Ed Adams stood on the Montaño Bridge and announced that the following morning city crews would begin re-striping nearly all of Montaño Road between Coors and Fourth Street.

Because the city has enacted several resolutions requiring that numerous infrastructure improvements be completed before Montaño can be re-striped, a state district court enjoined the city from proceeding, specifically rejecting the Mayor’s ambitious legal argument that the earlier Montaño resolutions were merely “advisory” and therefore not binding on him.

The Council has since passed (7-2) a resolution calling for an independent study of the Fourth and Montaño intersection. The Mayor has threatened to veto this measure and to move ahead with his own plans, including a city-directed study of Fourth Street. He will hold a public meeting on Thursday “to discuss the study of travel lane configurations on Montaño Boulevard [sic] between Coors Boulevard and Fourth Street.”

Following the Mayor’s lead, Councilor Cadigan plans to introduce a resolution that will nullify the city’s prior commitments regarding Montaño.

In the best interest of our city, we call on Councilor Cadigan and the Mayor to reconsider their approach.

A preliminary assessment of the traffic flow impacts that would result from four lanes on Montaño conducted by the Mid-Region Council of Governments (the federally-designated body charged with developing a regional transportation plan) concluded that travel times for many commuters, particularly those in Taylor Ranch, would actually increase unless there is a prior, substantial overhaul of the Fourth Street intersection. More recently, two prominent West Side leaders have publicly called for upgrades to the Fourth Street intersection prior to re-striping.

While we should not condone Councilor Cadigan’s attempt to shift traffic problems from one part of the city to another, the Mayor’s actions are even more objectionable. Unlike Councilor Cadigan, the Mayor was elected to serve the interests of the entire city. Instead, the Mayor’s commitment to deliver a four lane Montaño corridor to his West Side political base in anticipation of this fall’s mayoral election, couched under the pretext of “public safety,” has thoroughly clouded his judgment. Further evidence of this fact can be seen in his repeated attempts to mischaracterize the issue as a “City of Albuquerque vs. Village of Los Ranchos” or “West Side vs. East Side” confrontation. Such intimations are unnecessarily divisive and ignore the collaborative work that has been undertaken by hundreds of concerned Albuquerqueans on both sides of the river.

Equally troubling are comments made by Mr. Adams who has suggested on several occasions that there is only a minimal correlation between traffic flow at Fourth and Montaño and the negative economic effects on surrounding businesses. I do not profess to be an authority on the matter, but for the Mayor’s appointed “expert” to suggest this idea, coupled with the Mayor’s own statements and actions to date, reveals an administration that is either unwilling or unable to conduct itself in a competent, objective manner concerning this issue.

The administration also has done nothing to discourage the widely-held misperception that its currently proposed solutions for the Montaño corridor somehow will create a Paseo del Norte-like facility across Albuquerque. Whether desired or not, a simple examination of the number of traffic signals (at Coors, Fourth, Second, Edith, Renaissance, Culture Drive, and I-25) and driveways along Montaño reveals the fallacy of this misrepresentation.

Before we saddle ourselves with impractical, unsustainable solutions to this mounting crisis, we need objective data that only a thorough, independent analysis will provide. Such a study could be completed in months, not years. It should include the key elements of our Community Visioning Report (www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html) and should examine alternatives – such as utilizing Montaño to connect commuters with the planned commuter rail project or other similar mass transit options – that irretrievably will be lost if the Mayor’s current proposals are implemented. Together as a community we could then make intelligent, rational decisions that would benefit our city, now and into the future.

The Mayor has promised to support our efforts. He should act on that promise by initiating the type of thorough, independent analysis that has been recommended to him by the Coalition and that has already received the support of our state legislators, the city’s two leading newspapers, and a majority of the City Council.

With visionary leadership, perhaps – just perhaps – the Montaño and Fourth Street corridors will actually unite our community."

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Montano Study Is a Good Idea, Says Albuquerque Journal

Today the West Side version of the Albuquerque Journal editorial favors an independent study by the Mid-Region Council of Governments. If you have a Journal online password, check it out at:
http://www.abqjournal.com/west/opinion/277015westoped12-22-04.htm

Friday, December 17, 2004

Mayor Chavez is the Road Block?

Click here for Friday's Tribune article on the Bridge controversy, abqtrib.com/albq/nw_local_state_government/article/0,2564,ALBQ_19859_3406573,00.html

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Albuquerque Tribune Joins the Coalition's Call for Comprehensive Solutions

Today, the Albuquerque Tribune joined the growing chorus of those calling on the Mayor and the City Council to do what's best for all of us by fixing the intersections along the Montaño corridor before attempting to open Montaño to four lanes. www.abqtrib.com/albq/op_editorials/article/0,2565,ALBQ_19867_3403841,00.html

It's time for the Mayor and Councilor Cadigan to recognize what so many already fully understand: "band-aid" fixes are not the answer to the problems in our Area; this is not a "West Side vs. North Valley" or "City of Albuquerque vs. Village of Los Ranchos" issue; the true engineering challenges (and opportunities) lie within the intersections at 4th Street and Montaño and points east; solutions that will benefit our entire City may not be inexpensive, but are well worth doing; and the complexity of the issues we face require that an independent, comprehensive study be conducted in order to identify and prioritize the solutions that will result in efficient traffic flow and that will spur economic revitalization for the 4th Street & Montaño Area.

In the Coalition's view, the Mayor and the City Council have a unique opportunity to reject the politics of divisiveness that has plagued the Montaño corridor for decades. We call on them to put real meaning behind the phrase, "Together, we can build a world class city." Let's work collaboratively and comprehensively so that one day, in the not-too-distant future, we might all view the 4th Street & Montaño Area as a place where the City truly has come together, rather than as a source of division and acrimony.

Important City Council Meeting on Monday, December 20

All who are interested in making sure that the Coalition's efforts do not go to waste are encouraged to attend an important City Council meeting at 5 p.m. on Monday, December 20, 2004. At that meeting Councilor Michael Cadigan is expected to introduce a resolution calling on the City Council to abandon the resolutions passed over the years by prior City Councils. Those prior resolutions establish specific criteria for the City of Albuquerque to meet before four lanes on Montaño could be considered. Perhaps more importantly, these prior resolutions also form the legal basis for the injunction that was imposed by Judge Theresa Baca, preventing the City from re-striping the Montaño corridor. Councilor Cadigan and the Mayor of Albuquerque would like the City Council to rescind these requirements. If the Council passes Cadigan's resolution, the City would immediately go back to Judge Baca, who in almost all probability would lift her injunction. The City could then immediately re-stripe the Montaño corridor to four lanes.

As we've noted in earlier posts on this blog, our Coalition believes that the re-striping of the Montaño corridor, together with the City's currently planned "fixes" to the intersection at 4th and Montaño, would cause significant harm to our area and would not improve traffic flow for anyone. We need individuals to attend Monday's City Council meeting to speak out against Councilor Cadigan's "band-aid" approach to the current situation, which we believe will only add to the divisiveness that has been a part of Montaño's history for too long.

We also encourage you to speak in favor of the Coalition's efforts to seek out a pro-active, positive set of solutions to the traffic flow and economic development issues facing us. We call on the City Council to reject Councilor Cadigan's and Mayor Chavez's short-sighted, ineffective, and divisive policies and instead turn to a more collaborative, comprehensive approach to these issues. Our call for this type of approach has been echoed by many neighborhood leaders on the West Side as well as by the Albuquerque Journal.

Please attend Monday's City Council meeting. If you cannot attend, please contact all of the City Councilors (their contact information can be found at http://www.cabq.gov/council) prior to Monday's meeting. Let them know that our Coalition is seeking positive solutions that will benefit everyone and that we are trying to create an environment in which the Montaño and 4th Street corridors can be a source of unity and pride for the City, rather than a source of continued pain and division. We believe this is possible and that our Community Visioning Report (http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html) is a good place to start.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The City's Current Plans for the 4th Street & Montaño Intersection: Like Trying to Fix the Titanic with Duct Tape

Judge Theresa Baca granted a preliminary injunction to John and Cynthia Sparks yesterday, halting the Mayor's overreaching and surreptitious efforts to re-stripe the Montaño corridor last Saturday following his last minute press conference on Friday afternoon.

In today's West Side Journal, Joe Valles, President of the West Side Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, writes that improvements to the intersections at Second Street and at Fourth Street are imminent. With the planned construction at I-40 and Coors, Mr. Valles argues that we should not "stack" improvements to the City's transportation grid, and asks "doesn't it make more sense to cooperatively and comprehensively begin to address these problems now?"

We absolutely agree with Mr. Valles. Our Coalition has been calling for a comprehensive study of the 4th Street and Montaño corridors for the past 18 months. We recently presented our Community Visioning Report to the City Council (http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html). That Report contains recommendations for addressing the complex issues of traffic congestion and economic revitalization in our Area. We believe the Report is an excellent place to start "cooperatively and comprehensively" addressing these issues. However, as expressed in our Report, it is of paramount importance to us that whatever solutions are imposed along the 4th Street and Montaño corridors, those solutions MUST be consistent with our Vision and cannot serve merely the interests of commuters.

Unfortunately, the current perception of the supposed "improvements" to the intersections at 4th Street and 2nd Street are terribly inaccurate, due largely to the incomplete information being provided to the public by the City. Particularly with regard to the proposed changes to 4th Street, those design changes are only meant to alleviate the congestion associated with a 2 lane facility on the Montaño corridor. Despite what the City would like all of us to believe, anyone who has taken a look at the plans for the 4th Street and Montaño interchange can easily see that they fall far short of the kind of comprehensive re-engineering that would need to occur at that intersection before the City even considers allowing 4 lanes on Montaño. The proposed changes at 4th Street are analogous to doing no more than adding an additional traffic lane along the shoulder at Coors and I-40, rather than spending millions of dollars to wholly rebuild that interchange so that it actually works.

Indeed, the Mid-Region Council of Governments has concluded that adding lanes to Montaño, without significantly greater infrastructure improvements at 4th Street than those currently being contemplated by the City, may actually increase commute times and will definitely adversely impact our Area. Those kinds of changes do not represent the kinds of "collaborative and comprehensive" solutions called for by either Mr. Valles or our Coalition.

The challenges facing West Side commuters cannot begin to be solved until the intersections at 4th Street and points east are overhauled. That won't happen without significant investment. We all desire a more efficient traffic grid. As the significant dollars being spent at Coors and I-40 demonstrate, that will not happen "on the cheap." And before we spend a whole lot of money (or any money, for that matter) trying to solve a problem of such magnitude, we should properly understand what the possibilities are for making real, lasting improvements.

Councilor O'Malley will be introducing a bill calling for a comprehensive study of the 4th Street and Montaño corridors, so that we might identify and work toward the kinds of collaborative and comprehensive solutions requested by Mr. Valles. Our Coalition wholly supports Councilor O'Malley's bill, and we ask for Mr. Valles's support as well. At the same time, West Side Councilor Michael Cadigan will be introducing a bill asking the City Council to eliminate many of the prerequisites identified by earlier City Councils as requirements for opening the Montaño corridor to four lanes of traffic. In his zeal to satisfy the demands of his West Side constituents, we believe Councilor Cadigan is putting the cart before the horse. Let's have a comprehensive, independent study of these corridors so that we as a community can identify and develop real solutions that are consistent with our Community Vision and that meet the legitimate concerns of West Side commuters.

We ask Mr. Valles, other citizens who want to see better traffic flow, increased economic development, and useful expenditure of taxpayer dollars, to call on the full City Council to support Councilor O'Malley's bill. Simply re-striping Montaño, or making a "band-aid" fix to the 4th Street intersection, are like trying to fix the Titanic with duct tape. They simply won't get the job done.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Albuquerque Journal Agrees: Fix the Intersections First

In an editorial in the December 14, 2004 edition of the Albuquerque Journal, the paper's editorial board takes the position that the City should not consider re-striping the Montaño corridor until the intersections at Fourth Street and at Second Street have been rebuilt to handle additional traffic flow.

Our Coalition has never taken an official position on whether or not Montaño should be widened to four lanes. However, we agree with the Journal that, even with current traffic flows along a two-lane Montaño corridor, the intersections at Fourth and at Second Streets cannot handle the load and need to be completely reengineered. We disagree strongly with the current position taken by the City that the $700,000 that was included in the recently-passed road bond election is sufficient for the overhaul required at Fourth and Montaño. Moreover, the City's current plans for that intersection are only designed to alleviate current traffic flows (i.e., 2 lanes of traffic on Montaño). It would be a complete waste of taxpayer money to use these superficial improvements to justify opening Montaño to four lanes, as the proposed improvements are not sufficient to handle 4 lanes of traffic moving through that intersection.

We recently presented the Coalition's Community Visioning Report to the City Council (http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html). That Report, developed by over 100 concerned citizens, provides the basis for a constructive dialogue between affected residents, business owners, commuters and City officials on how best to relieve traffic congestion in our Area while at the same time introducing improvements that will enhance the economic vitality of the Fourth Street corridor. The Mayor's ill-timed and insulting press conference of last Friday notwithstanding, we again call on the Mayor and the City Council to view our work to date as an opportunity to set aside the politics of division (a real challenge in an election year, we recognize) and to do something positive for the entire City in the Fourth Street and Montaño corridors. Mr. Mayor, if you truly want to build a "world class city," merely re-striping Montaño and making superficial changes to the Fourth Street intersection are not the way to do it.

We ask the news media and other citizens to take the Mayor and the City Council to task on this issue. The Mayor and the Council need to call for and conduct an independent, comprehensive study of the Fourth Street and Montaño corridors to determine how to make meaningful improvements that are consistent with the ideas expressed in our Community Visioning Report. The Mayor's laughable "fixes" to the intersections at Second Street and at Fourth Street, together with his ridiculous proposal to create an "hourglass" along Montaño (4 lanes at Coors and Montaño, immediately down to 2 lanes at the bridge, then back to 4 lanes immediately after the bridge - just think of the merging antics!!!) fall far short of doing anything meaningful or positive either for commuters or for the taxpayers who would foot the bill.

You may view the Journal's editorial at http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/1OP12-14.HTM.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Upcoming Meetings - Your Support Requested

The Albuquerque City Council will be holding a short meeting on Wednesday, December 15 at 4 p.m. (note the change in time from the normal 5 o'clock start time) in Council Chambers for the purpose of electing its officers for next year. During the "public comment" portion of the meeting, representatives from the 4th Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition will be addressing the Council regarding the Mayor's recent attempt to re-stripe the Montaño corridor.

We need to demonstrate to the Council that this is NOT a "City of Albuquerque vs. Village of Los Ranchos" issue (as the Mayor would like to portray it), nor is this a "West Side vs. North Valley" issue. As we recently articulated in our Community Visioning Report (http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html), we are all about finding solutions to the crisis in our Area that will benefit all of Albuquerque. We need the Council to support the ideas contained in our Community Visioning Report. Please try to attend the City Council meeting to show your support (and bring some friends and neighbors)! Your presence WILL make a difference and will show the Council that we are united and determined to make positive changes to our Area.

We plan on making the following points at this Wednesday's City Council meeting:

--We want a COMPREHENSIVE solution to the 4th Street and Montaño area crisis that is good for all of us, including West Side commuters. This solution must be a well-informed one that involves a great deal of public input from all affected stakeholders.

--We want whatever happens on Montaño, and at the 4th & Montaño intersection, to support revitalization on 4th Street.

--We want to be part of a positive process and want to work with City Government to help improve Albuquerque...Mayor Chavez's recent effort to re-stripe Montaño on a Saturday with less than 24 hours notice circumvented due process.

--Widening Montaño without substantial improvements at the 4th and 2nd Street intersections will exaggerate safety and congestion while doing little or nothing to help West Side commuters.

--Our Coalition insists on a comprehensive, independent, well funded study of the 4th Street and Montaño corridors.

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Also, the Village of Los Ranchos is hosting a public forum on the Montaño issue, Monday evening December 13th, 7 p.m. at the Village Hall on Rio Grande.

P.S. - Please spread the word! Forward a link to this blog to all who you think might be interested in what we're doing. Thanks!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Mayor's Attempt to Re-stripe Montaño Enjoined; Coalition Issues Press Release

In an apparent effort to effectuate a fait acomplis, City of Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez - without any notice to affected residents and business owners - held a last-minute, surprise press conference late Friday afternoon at which he announced that, beginning first thing Saturday morning, City crews would re-stripe Montaño Road from 4th Street to the Bridge and from the Bridge to Coors Boulevard.

The Mayor made his decision despite the conclusions of the Mid-Region Council of Governments that widening Montaño without making significant improvements to the intersections at 4th Street and 2nd Street will not improve West Side commute time and will further aggravate the traffic safety and congestion crisis in the North Valley, and further despite the Mayor's own recent past statements acknowledging that the true problems with traffic flow throughout the Montaño and 4th Street corridors result from the intersections at 4th Street and 2nd Street and NOT from the number of lanes on Montaño (a fact that, though patently obvious to even the most inexperienced urban planner, apparently was lost on the Mayor when the bridge was constructed in 1997).

Both Mayor Chavez and City Councilor Michael Cadigan, who joined the Mayor at the surprise press conference on Friday, have apparently decided to ignore the views of even the most vocal proponents of widening the Montaño corridor. As noted in an earlier post on this blog (see "More on 'Problems with Progress'" below), Larry Weaver, President of the West Side Coalition, recently stated in his letter to the Albuquerque Journal that "there should be no rush [to restripe Montaño to four lanes] until the Fourth and Second Street intersections are improved." Clearly, both Mayor Chavez and Councilor Cadigan are interested in applying a "quick fix" to a serious problem of the City's own creation - the lack of significant and meaningful infrastructure improvements in the 4th Street and Montaño corridors, including the complete reconstruction of the 4th Street and 2nd Street intersections - in favor of a short-sighted and divisive proposal that doesn't address the true source of the problem.

The Mayor's surreptitious efforts have been temporarily thwarted, however. At 10:12 p.m. on Friday night, John and Cynthia Sparks, residents of the Village of Los Ranchos whose property borders Montaño Road, obtained a Temporary Restraining Order from State District Court Judge Theresa Baca. The TRO states that the City "including any person acting on behalf of the City of Albuquerque, are hereby temporarily enjoined from proceeding or effecting, in any manner, any improvement to Montano Road, Albuquerque, New Mexico, between Second Street and Coors Boulevard, which is intended, designed or has the effect of changing said Montano Blvd., from two lanes of traffic to four lanes of traffic."

Earlier in the day, Councilor Debbie O'Malley issued a press release in which she observed that the Mayor has not complied with several City Council resolutions pertaining to Montaño, and that he also did not comply with required notice and public input procedures.

The Coalition also issued a press release, which reads as follows:

"The 4th Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition regrets Mayor Chavez’s announcement late today that City crews will begin working over the weekend to add lanes to Montaño Road. The Mayor’s actions are short-sighted, contrary to good public policy and a waste of taxpayer dollars.

According to the Mid-Region Council of Governments, widening Montaño without making significant improvements to the intersections at 4th Street and 2nd Street will not improve West Side commute time and will further aggravate the traffic safety and congestion crisis in the North Valley.

The Mayor’s Friday afternoon announcement of work to commence Saturday morning violated the spirit of trust and cooperation that is necessary for effective government.

For over a year, the 4th Street & Montaño Area Improvement Coalition has been working with the Mayor and City staff to develop comprehensive solutions to the traffic crisis along the 4th Street and Montaño corridors. Only three days ago, the Coalition presented its Community Visioning Report to City Council. The Report includes several recommendations designed to accommodate West Side commuters while reducing traffic congestion and revitalizing 4th Street. The Coalition’s work to date demonstrates that individuals with widely divergent views can work together to build a “world class city.” However, doing so will require that the Mayor and the City Council demonstrate the political will and long-term vision that will bring the City together rather than further dividing it.

We will continue to insist that the City make long-overdue, substantial infrastructure improvements – including the complete reconstruction of the 4th Street and 2nd Street intersections – before the City adds more traffic on these corridors.

For more information about the Coalition’s efforts, visit http://www.4thstreetcoalition.blogspot.com/. You may download the Coalition’s Community Visioning Report at http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport/html (click on the "Community Visioning Report [pdf] link). The Community Visioning Report reflects the consensus of over 100 citizens who are participating in a grass-roots effort to make the 4th Street & Montaño area a “jewel” within the heart of Albuquerque."

We strongly encourage you to contact all members of the City Council and inform them that we need a comprehensive approach to solving the many issues along the 4th Street and Montaño corridors, not the "band-aid" approach that the Mayor is advocating. A good place to start is the independent, comprehensive study being presented to the City Council by Councilor O'Malley.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Councilor Urges Investment in Coalition Area

In an editorial on page B3 of the December 5, 2004 edition of the Albuquerque Journal, Councilor Martin Heinrich explains why he proposed an amendment to move one mill of the City's property tax levy from the general fund (where, according to Councilor Heinrich, it had been moved as a temporary measure from the capital outlay program two years ago in response to a severe budget crisis, but where it was never intended to remain permanently) back into the capital improvement program.

In the opening paragraph of his op-ed piece, Councilor Heinrich expresses a vision that is shared by our Coalition: "Imagine an Albuquerque where the sidewalks are safer for kids riding bikes. Imagine sidewalks in older parts of town on which you can actually walk your dog without tripping. Imagine high quality streetscape improvements that encourage strolling and interaction outside of the vehicle. Imagine the success of Downtown revitalization mimicked....on Fourth Street NW." (Emphasis added).

Our community recenty articulated just such a vision for our part of Fourth Street (you can download and view an Adobe version of our Coalition's Community Visioning Report by going to http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html and clicking on the "Community Visioning Report [pdf]" link). Our Area is long overdue for precisely the kinds of "high quality" investments that Councilor Heinrich describes - the kinds of investments that are identified in the Coalition's Community Visioning Report. The City's currently planned "improvements" at the intersection of 4th Street & Montaño fall far short of the comprehensive infrastructure improvements that will be necessary to realize our community's Vision.

The Coalition's goal is to make this historically and culturally rich area a "jewel" within the heart of Albquequerque: an area of thriving economic activity that all Albuquequeans may enjoy and that supports the City's claim of being a "world class city." To achieve world class status requires political will and capital improvements. We call on the Mayor and the City Council to deliver both. We deserve no less.

You may read the full text of Councilor Heinrich's op-ed piece at http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/guest_columns/267190opinion12-05-04.htm.

VSA Opens New Community Arts Center on Fourth

Though it is a few blocks south of the area on which the Coalition is focused, the opening of the new VSA Community Arts Center on Fourth Street, just north of Griegos Road, is another example of the "Great Things" that are happening in and around our Area, and of the possibilities that exist for developing this culturally-rich part of the City for all Albuquerqueans to enjoy. Check out the newspaper article on this important addition to our community on page F1 of the December 5, 2004 edition of the Albuquerque Journal. If you are a subscriber to the paper, you may also view the article using the following link: http://www.abqjournal.com/venue/266757venue12-05-04.htm

Friday, November 26, 2004

Coalition's Efforts Featured in Thanksgiving Day Albuquerque Tribune Article

The Coalition's efforts to improve the 4th Street & Montano Area were featured in the November 25, 2004 edition of the Albuquerque Tribune. A link to the article follows: www.abqtrib.com/archives/neighbors04/112504_neighbors_fourth.shtml.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

More on "Problems with Progress"

Though we do not wish to get caught up in the personal issues between Former Mayor Hooker and Larry Weaver, who is president of the Paradise Hills Civic Association and chairman of the Unser Middle Citizens Advisory Committee, we'd like to provide a link to Mr. Weaver's Op-Ed piece that appeared in the November 24, 2004 West Side Journal (http://www.abqjournal.com/riorancho/opinion/263534westoped11-24-04.htm). Mr. Weaver's piece was a response to an earlier Op-Ed piece written by Mr. Hooker (see the "Problems with Progress" post below).

Significantly, we were pleased to read Mr. Weaver's view that "there should be no rush [to restripe Montaño to four lanes] until the Fourth and Second Street intersections are improved." We couldn't agree more!! Mr. Weaver goes on to say that "Fourth Street and Second Street Improvements are on the way." However, the City's current plans for "improvements" at the Fourth and Montaño intersections fall far short of the comprehensive infrastructure and economic revitalization improvements that are long-overdue for our Area, and, in our view, are not consistent with the Vision that our community recently articulated (you may view our Visioning Report at http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport/html and clicking on the "Community Visioning Report [pdf]" link). We welcome and respect Mr. Weaver's views on the subject and look forward to working with him and others who would like to see the City make well-deserved and much-needed investments in our Area.

Traffic Subcommittee Meeting November 29, 2004

The report from our workshops is finalized, and we have set some goals and objectives. The Traffic Subcommittee is finally ready to meet to decide on action steps, set a timeline, and divide responsibilities. The subcommittee will meet on Monday, November 29 at 7 p.m. at Pat Branda's house. We need you!! Please contact Pat at 263-6518 or via email at pbranda@comcast.net to let her know if you can attend (even if you can't attend this meeting, please contact Pat if you are interested in being a part of the Traffic Subcommittee).

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Download the Community Visioning Report!

We have documented the ideas articulated by our community in the two visioning meetings we held during the summer (July 31 and August 21, 2004). The report will be available in pdf format at the City's web site beginning the week of November 22. You may download a copy of the report from the City's web site at by clicking on http://www.cabq.gov/council/communityvisioningreport.html and then clicking on the "Community Visioning Report [pdf]" link. We welcome your feedback.

Problems with "Progress"

An Op-Ed piece appeared in the November 17 West Side section of the Albuquerque Journal that may be of interest to those concerned about the 4th Street & Montano Area. You may view the piece by following this link (note: this link will take you to the online Journal's web site. You will need a user name and password for the online Journal's web site to view the article. Access to the online Journal is free for current subscribers to the print edition of the Journal): http://www.abqjournal.com/west/opinion/259539westoped11-17-04.htm

We are posting this link to Mayor Hooker's Op-Ed piece not because the opinions expressed are those of the Coaliton, but rather because he raises some important issues relative to the significant traffic, safety, and economic development issues affecting the 4th Street & Montaño Area. There is no question that our friends and fellow Albuquerueans who live and work on the West Side face very legitimate challenges, which ultimately affect all of us. Similarly, we who live and work in the 4th Street & Montaño Area are extremely concerned with the decades of neglect and poor planning that have saddled businesses and residences alike with economic blight and unacceptable safety and traffic conditions that leave our children at risk every single day.

Our Coalition is all about developing a jewel within the heart of Albuquerque: an area of economic vitality and aesthetic beauty than can be enjoyed by residents from across our City. Mayor Hooker's Op-Ed piece highlights the fact that achieving our community's articulated Vision will require a great deal of political will as well as a concentrated effort by all stakeholders to ensure that the long-overdue improvements to the 4th Street & Montaño Area are implemented.