Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ABQ Streetcar and NIMBY

Tonight was the second meeting held by the city to provide the public with information about the project and allow feedback. The meeting was held in Nob Hill and thus attracted it's many varied and vocal individuals including Don Shrader, Councilor Heinrich, Greg Payne and a slew of city officials and HDR employees.

Sadly this post focuses mostly on the negative because of what the vocal minority in the crowd decided to spew when given the opportunity to comment. One lady asked why we should support a transit system that uses electricity from a utility company that uses so much coal. Her goal was point out that this rail technology did not promote green living. I wanted to ask her how her rubber soles were made but it was not my turn to speak. Does it not occur to people that taking 150 people out of their cars has far less impact than if they had driven?

Later, a gentleman asked why Albuquerque would look at mass transportation like this because he didn't think the city would ever be big enough to support it. His argument was that we are doomed to be just like Phoenix and it wasn't worth the investment. Another had the argument that development does not follow transportation.

I couldn't contain myself from laughing out loud. First, Phoenix is Phoenix because they invest in freeways rather than mass transportation. Second, every city is shaped by its tranportation network. A city would not exist without such access.

Anyhow, one of the information boards had eight examples of tram (streetcar) models. These three were my favorite, the first being my top choice:

Furthermore, they were soliciting comments on everthing including a couple options for how to run the rail...far side or center layout.

I have to admit, I'm all for the layout that puts the stops in the median. I defend my option by qualifying that such a layout would still allow for bicycles to share the road. The other option promotes bicycle riders to use parallel roads, which in this case, is all neighborhoods. People will argue that biking along central is not safe because too many people drive too fast and there is too much traffic. But the whole point of this project is to promote infill and density, which lends itself to higher pedestrian traffic and slower vehicular traffic overall. The whole scenario works, I'm just not sure there is enough right-of-way to achieve each of those goals.


brendisimo said...

hey tim,

I'm always happy when I see you've posted something. Wish I could have been at the meeting too, but I'm living in San Francisco (I'll be returning to ABQ in about a year).
I love the light rail idea and the first pic you posted. Was there discussion of the outside design of the trains? I like the possiblity of recycling old trains from other cities and making it a sort of hodgepodge mix, kind of like the trolley cars in San Fran. It would be unique and different and charming, much like Albuquerque.
Keep posting updates...I read avidly to stay up on urban developments in the duke city.

The Breakers said...

I can't believe how terrible traffic has become in ABQ. The biggest problem with the lightrail system is that it isn't already in place. It is going to take years for it to span the city, we need to get on this thing ASAP. I understand the need to serve the Downtown-Airport-UNM-Uptown corridor, but the real commuting problems are initiated by the 9 to 5 folks coming from their homes in the heights and Westside. Sure, ABQ hasn't cracked a million yet, but the acreage we cover is vast. This lightrail system needs to extend its arms out to the people--otherwise it'll become little more than a DD for college students. I know we have a bus system, but there is a certain stigma associated with buses--people don't like to ride them and won't if they can avoid them. Lightrail cars don't stop for signals, their routes are obvious, and generally leave people satisfied with their self sufficiency. Sorry, Tim, for my rant. I'm all behind growing this city.

Tim said...

Thanks for posting comments, everyone. It's exciting to see that others do check in once in a while. Breakers, feel free to rant and rave till your heart is content. Brendisimo, I was actually in San Fran this past weekend. What an amazing city. That is a very cool idea that you have to recycle old cars from other cities.

Also, Breakers, I agree to an extent that other parts of the city could use a light-rail line, but I don't think the ridership in any other area makes sense to invest so greatly. There really is only one area in the city that demands such a high-capicity system. Hopefully as our city continues the path to creating Centers and Corridors with Great Streets, etc., we'll see demands for mass transit rise in all corners of the city. I, too, would love to hop a train from one corner of the metro to the other.

Steve said...

Nob Hill NIMBYs

Slightly OT, but oh well.

If they successfully derail the Place at Nob Hill, what a shame. From renderings and what I read it looks like a quality development. Of course it is 3 stories. Wow.