Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) is coming to the 2016 ballot, but it will not affect construction on the historic Route 66.
Albuquerque City Council member Diane Gibson and Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley sponsored the idea to have ART on the November ballot in a non-binding advisory question.
The question on the ballot will appear as this: “Are you in favor of giving voters residing in the city of Albuquerque municipal limits the chance to vote in support of or opposition to the proposed Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project?”
It will be a poll for citizens to voice their opinion. Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry could continue the project regardless of the results. The Berry administration began official construction of the ART Aug. 29 and it will be a 16 month project.
Nob Hill business owner Joe Annabi said he worries that Albuquerque does not have a voice in the decision-making.
“Putting new busses and making new lanes just so the mayor can stick a feather in his hat about another project he got done won’t help this city,”Annabi said.
Council member Gibson said he hopes this push for the ART vote will give Albuquerque businesses and residents a chance to be in favor of the transit. Gibson said she believes this is the best way to educate the city on the ART since Mayor Berry has not put in the effort.
“As far as I’m concerned, the mayor hasn’t done squat to inform the public about the benefits of the ART,” said Gibson. “I’m hoping this can give the administration a chance to inform the city community on how it will benefit them.”
Since the vote was done close to the start of construction, several city council members said it might be too late to hold any significance at all. Gibson said she pushed for the vote months before, but did not receive enough people in favor.
It was not until Commissioner O’Malley proposed the idea to the council that it came to an agreement. Democrat commissioners Maggie Hart Stebbins and Art De La Cruz were then in favor of the idea, making it a 3-2 vote. Gibson said that those against the ballot question found it pointless since it has no legal effect.
When asked about ART being an advisory question on this year’s ballot, Annabi mentioned it is ridiculous.
“They’re just going to toss it out anyway,” Annabi said. “We don’t matter.”
The vote is expected to be on the ballot alongside the presidential candidates and other New Mexico state ballot measures. Gibson said she hopes that this will give the city a chance to educate the public on the benefits of a transit system.
“I’m just hoping my diligence to bring information to my community will be worth it,” Gibson said.