ALBUQUERQUE–The Albuquerque Rapid Transit project has been under construction since March 2016. When construction began it was right out side of Tere McDowell’s front door. McDowell owns The Yarn Shop at Nob Hill, which has been in business for seven years this month. McDowell has a passion for knitting and before she opened her store was consistently flying to San Francisco to purchase yarn, which, according to her, got very expensive. She wanted to open a place to buy good yarn in her neighborhood, so that’s what she did, and her business has thrived.
When she first began to hear rumblings about Albuquerque Rapid Transit, (ART) she was nervous. “I was concerned for my business and for my neighborhood.” said McDowell, who also owns homes and lives in the Nob Hill area, as do her children. “I was like, what’s going to happen to my neighborhood?”
According to Mayor Richard Berry’s office, the project should reach completion by late this year or Bradbury Stamm, the contractor doing the work, will face financial penalties. Despite consistent optimism by city officials in regards to the numerous benefits of the bus line, no official end date has been presented. Meanwhile Central avenue is still a maze of orange cones and lane closures in many places.
McDowell says that her business did suffer due to the construction. There were less customers, they could not afford much new inventory and she was not able to pay herself. McDowell credits the businesses survival to great management, a solid customer base as well as the fact that they printed alternate routes to the shop in their monthly newsletter.
Albuquerque native and Political Science Masters candidate at the University of New Mexico, Oscar Duran says that he simply avoids the area as much as possible because of the construction. “I really hope Albuquerque survives this.” He says. Duran, and others have expressed concerns about the escalating crime in Albuquerque, homelessness and a general lack of social programs needed to empower residents, while politicians continue to focus on trying to attract more tourism.
Tere McDowell is optimistic though. She says that speaking with her children and other young people has helped her come to embrace the project. She points out that Americans have an unhealthy dependence on their cars and that we need to start changing the way we think and live. “ We just need to slow down and breathe, this is only a moment. Lets think about the future, lets think about the environment, lets use ART and make the best of it.”
The New Mexico Tribune investigated any possible connections between project monies and local government officials and found none. Reporters also reached out to local business owners whose businesses closed their doors during construction and did not receive any response.Like this story? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get more of our best original news.