Thursday, July 01, 2010


The lack of funding for this project might have been a blessing in disguise. Actually, it is a blessing as this will work to slow down the flow of development and investment in the northwest part of the city. As long as we continue to subsidize sprawl development, we don't have any right to complain about a lack of investment in our built up areas. I can think of countless projects that would be better uses of $350 million dollars. However, there was recently news that the city will improve Unser and 98th(?), I believe, into Rio Rancho. This will be interesting to watch new, poorly planned and poorly designed developments grow along these arterials into Rio Rancho, filling the coffers of Rio Rancho and Sandoval Country, which will then be used to support and encourage more crappy development. I'm wondering what the reasoning was at city hall to do this.

Transit Tax
Let's see, we voted to support AND expand our current service, but instead we're going to see that new money used to plug budget gaps? I'll bet we never see that intended money redirected to its intended purpose before Mayor Berry leaves....

Montaño Station Plan
The city was soliciting comments for the station plan awhile back and so I submitted my two cents. I received a response from Tony Sylvestor. What shocks and appalls me is the fact that even after several years of service, there is no real solid plans for TOD within the city, aside from downtown. With full parking lots and limited land area to utilize for expansion the capacity of passenger growth is limited. Rio Metro is in a terrific position to affect real change in land use around the stations but has chosen the cheapest, easiest, least affective approach. Below is my email to MRCOG and Mr Sylvester's responses. He included his name in front of his remarks.

Mr Sylvester

As a forward-thinking "authority" I feel as though the policies and

priorities exhibited by this station area and those preceding

represent what amounts to a baby step in the progression of

Albuquerque's built environment. After briefing through the

presentation and EIS it would appear that the foremost priority

within this plan lies in its ability to accommodate the automobile.

This priority is what has led us to the point we're at. As the

Railrunner is struggling to prove its value in tough economic times,

shouldn't it be a priority to maximize its potential to catalyze new

growth patterns and land use?

TONY - we are really trying to develop a station that balances auto and bus access. The station accommodates up to 8 buses, including those that use the bus bays on Montano. In the immediate future there really aren't plans for many more buses in the area (right now there are only 2). But - the station is designed to potentially evolve into a more "transit" accommodating facility, as well as to accommodate some built structures. One of the reasons to prioritize the auto is that folks in the neighborhood know the overflow conditions at El Pueblo, and the fact that for at least the immediate future, autos play the key role in access. The "we don't want people parking in our neighborhood" concern was one raised at the last public meeting.


The footprint of the land within the proposal is large enough to

accommodate a mix of uses rather than just parking lots. Granted, the

parking lots are wonderfully designed as it's apparent someone has

had lots of practice. But with the station and its location near a

north 4th area planned for mixed-use, it would seem like a priority

would be to extend this mixed-use development to this area. Why not

build into the system a new population of users? I hate using other

cities as an example because people often become defensive and say

their city is so different. BUT, Seattle did a wonderful job creating

new urban villages at their stations, thus building automatic system

users. I'm not suggesting this model is a direct correlation as the

commuter rail is different from light-rail but it still provides

valuable lessons for station area planning. The RailRunner model is

built on a continued need for expanded parking lots (ie. Journal

Center) and nothing else. We're several years into this service and

TOD only exists in downtown ABQ and SF and it's limited at best.

TONY - We are working with the City to evaluate mixed use opportunities in the area, and to develop a framework plan to move ahead. While we see this as a vision of the future, auto access is key in the short term. We know that if someone drives to the station, cant find a parking place and misses their train, we will lose a transit rider. We have planned buses along Montaño to serve the station, but at this point there are few people residing in walking distance, and very limited bus access.


The paving over of our desert environment is leading to the

degradation of our region including that of contaminated water

runoff. I'm sure it was looked at but surely more could be done to

maximize onsite stormwater treatment. For 60 years we've piped

everything into our gutters. The result is larger and larger storm

events due to increased runoffs. Then we get things like giant holes

in the ground along our major gateways. (see Lomas & Broadway)

TONY - The landscaped areas running east and west will capture and retain water. While some stormwater will go into the storm drain, we are retaining as much as possible on site.

I'm assuming the Rapid Ride will be integrated with this stop. It

wasn't clear from what I briefed over.

TONY - Rapid Ride does not serve this area. The Transit District plans call for east bound and west bound Montaño buses from the station.

Lastly, the 2025 estimate for travel time from downtown ABQ to

downtown Santa Fe is 115 minutes? Right now it's close to 60minutes.

Using this figure to gauge the "efficiency" of the RailRunner system

is a poor litmus test that doesn't meet reality. This number does

little to help make the RailRunner competitive currently. Again, more

could be done.