Monday, December 28, 2009

Toronto Taxes Billboards to Benefit Public Art

Wish Albuquerque had the vision and leadership to do what Toronto just got accomplished: taxing billboards to fund public art.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bowled Over

Great New Mexico Bowl (35-28 double overtime Wyoming win). Lucky enough to have a field pass which allowed me to get this pic. Wyoming fans turned out in force. Here's hoping ABQ residents do the same in the future. This is great exposure for the city and a nice economic bump.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rail Runner Service to New Mexico Bowl

For those heading to the New Mexico Bowl this Saturday (I've been three times and enjoyed each one), Rail Runner will be offering service to the game. Free shuttle will take riders to the game from the Lobo Platform.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rail Runner's Major Shortcoming

Last train north from Downtown ABQ departs at 6:33 pm. This severely limits downtown's ability to attract transit-traveling evening visitors (not to mention those working late). What a missed financial opportunity for downtown businesses.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Nob Hill Street Lights Going Up

Infrastructure for new traffic light at Wellesley being installed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Streetcars Are Coming ...

... to Washington, D.C.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Rapid Ride on San Mateo?

A post on the Albuquerque City-Data Forum indicates a San Mateo Rapid Ride route may be in the works.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Convention Hotel + Events Center = Economic Development Project

Steve Wedeen, principle at Vaughn Wedeen Kuhn, makes a strong case in the Journal today that the proposed Convention Hotel and Events Center offers enormous economic benefits for the city and region:

"... our convention industry is in a tailspin and falling fast because we cannot accommodate the really lucrative events that other cities are attracting. And I'm not just talking about Las Vegas, Nev., or Los Angeles or Phoenix. I'm talking about places like Oklahoma City and Indianapolis and Austin. These are all cities that have invested in similar projects to the one being proposed for Albuquerque. And they are reaping the rewards, while we are being methodically put out of business...

"... Think about your professional, trade, charity or hobby organizations. They all have conventions, meetings, conferences and expos. If you're a doctor, where does the AMA meet? If you're a carpenter, where is your annual national union meeting? The answer, unfortunately is simple. Not here. But why? We have a beautiful city and state. Gorgeous weather. Lots to do. Santa Fe, one of the top five destinations in the country is only a train ride up the hill.

... this project isn't just about basketball or arena football, concerts or religious gatherings. It's not just about attracting the rodeo or a monster truck event. It's about our economy. It's about jobs. Thousands of them. It's about spending a dime to get a dollar back. The proposed $400 million probably will require about $15 million a year, with five, maybe 10 times that coming back into our economy. And now, with construction costs significantly lower, possible federal stimulus programs, not to mention contributions that may be made by the county, region or state, the cost could be much lower than originally estimated."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Berry Good News or Berry Bad?

What does his election mean for those concerned with positioning Albuquerque as a forward thinking city in terms of urban revitalization, transit and sustainability?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Andaluz Opens

Former Conrad Hilton property at 125 Second Street in downtown opened Thursday as LEED-certified boutique hotel. Andaluz sports 107 rooms, 73 solar panels and rooftop bar with fireplace.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunport Going Solar

The Journal is reporting that the city's largest grid-tied photovolatic solar array system — 480-panels — has been installed at the Sunport.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bike Valet Service at Balloon Fiesta

From the Balloon Fiesta site: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta has teamed up with Two Wheel Drive to create the first Bike Valet service for Balloon Fiesta!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sandia Pueblo Rail Runner Station Breaks Ground

The Sandia Pueblo Rail Runner station broke ground Thursday, September 24. No word on completion date.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rail Runner Promoting Lobo Stop

While it doesn't quite look like this yet, it's good to see Rail Runner's website promoting this latest stop.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Seeking a Coffeehouse in the Sandia Heights/Tram area of far northeast Albuquerque

Wanted: Coffee house in Sandia Heights area of North Albuquerque acres. Learn more.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Riding Rail Runner to Lobo Game





Fast. Easy. Cool.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One Wish Down - Lights Coming to Nob Hill

Two much-needed street lights coming to Nob Hill "on or before November 15, 2009." Signals will placed at: Central & Wellesley and Central & Morningside

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lobo Stop Being Readied for Opener

The Lobo Stop at Avenida César Chávez being readied for the football home opener this Saturday. Learn more.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

City Councilor Rey Garduño's Nob Hill Traffic Signal Initiative

Great post by Johnny Mango today about efforts to finally address the traffic signal issue in Nob Hill.

Director of Albuquerque's Municipal Development Dept., Michael Riordan, seems unconvinced about the need. Here's what we need to do: Tell that we have free beer and food for him and to meet at Kelly's to claim his goods. When he arrives, give him the food (extra salty) but tell him the beer is across the street.

Mango recommends supporters do the following:

So something that has worried the Nob Hill neighborhood for years may be coming to a head on September 9th. The NHNA is looking to have 4 or 5 speakers in favor of the resolution. If you want to lend your support, consider doing the following:
Email your Councilor.
• Comment on this post telling about your own experiences trying to cross the street, and give your own ideas.
• Show up at the City Council meeting.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

UNM Confirms Rail Runner Service to Games

In announcing a new parking policy for upcoming football games, UNM has confirmed that there will be Rail Runner service to games in an announcement on

The New Mexico Rail Runner will have special game day options and ABQ Ride's "Park `N Howl" will continue to provide shuttle service from Lot T at the southwest corner of Lomas and University.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rail Runner "Lobo Stop" Coming September 12

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that fans will be able to take Rail Runner to Lobo sporting events beginning with the football home opener on September 12. Dubbed "The Lobo Stop," a simple platform will be constructed near Avenida César Chávez with shuttle service to events. Lets hope the service will also be available for Isotopes games, and lets hope the stadium area adds some restaurants and bars.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mayoral Race: Where's the Vision?

They say you get the government you deserve. Has ABQ been bad? Speaking personally, I have heard nothing inspiring from the three mayoral candidates. Where's the vision for the city? What will ABQ look like in 5, 10, 15 years? Where's the vision for re-making downtown so ABQ can truly compete? Andaluz and Winrock developer Gary Goodman is correct to point out that the state of ABQ's downtown puts the area at a distinct disadvantage. Re-locating employers and the Creative Class want much more than the city currently offers. How will the candidates address this critical economic issue? The current mayor talks the talk (green city, green jobs, streetcar, downtown arena) but where are the accomplishments? The Big I landscaping is nice but where's the arena, the streecar, the sign reduction ordinance, etc., etc., etc.? Is he too divisive to accomplish grand projects? Do we have a leadership vacuum?

Friday, July 10, 2009

NM + Colorado + Texas = High-Speed Rail?

New Mexico Business Weekly is reporting that New Mexico is partnering with Colorado and Texas to develop a high-speed rail corridor between El Paso and Denver. Congress has authorized 11 such corridors across the U.S.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Red Light Mayhem One Car Ahead

Paseo Del Norte and Wyoming, Wednesday, June 23, 1:29 pm. Silver car ran red light going at least 40 mph. I was literally the car behind the one (red Mustang) that got hit. Sorry, but we need more red light cameras. Lets put 'em at every major intersection and use the revenue to fund the streetcar/light rail and the downtown arena project.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Ten Richmond Update

New Nob Hill condo development One Ten Richmond between Central Avenue and Silver Avenue Bike Boulevard is wrapping up.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nob Hill Getting More Pedestrian Friendly

Just noticed a plethora of new bulb-outs in Nob Hill on Richmond between Silver Avenue Bike Boulevard and Monte Vista.

Looking east from corner of Central and Richmond.

Looking west from corner of Central and Richmond.

Looking northeast toward Imbibe from corner of Central and Richmond.

Looking south from Imbibe.

Looking north from Silver Avenue Bike Boulevard and Richmond.

These last pix near Wellesley and Central Avenue show what a difference these design features make in terms of pedestrian safety and aesthetics.

Now, can we finally get a stop light between Carlisle and Richmond?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Which Way ABQ: Portland or Denver?

Thanks to UrbanABQ for sharing this link to a PBS video "Road to the Future." Story details how federal government has subsidized sprawl by providing 90 percent of highway/freeway funding. Documentary highlights how two cities — Denver and Portland — took very different paths to transportation planning in the 1970s which has led to very different results.


• Streetcar has inspired well over 3 billion dollars in development
• Not only does streetcar deliver customers to businesses, but Portland now manufactures streetcars and reaps billions of dollars in revenue (note: Portland company is one of two Tucson is considering for their streetcars)
• Portland mayor puts their approach in capitalistic terms: We can make developers more money because we provide complete neighborhoods as opposed to communities beset by strip malls, sprawl and the assumption of cheap energy
• Urban growth boundary has created tension with rural residents who want the ability to sell small lots for sub-divisions

• See Rio Rancho (just kidding, but not completely)
• Story centers on efforts to build and complete beltway which has led to rampant sprawl

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Transportation Solution for ABQ/RR?

ABQ Journal reports (May 28, 2009) that the Mid-Region Council of Governments is studying use of so-called "light-rail on rubber" bus system for certain clogged areas of metro area.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rail Runner Connection to Taos

From: New Mexico Business Weekly:

Taos is launching a new nonstop shuttle service that will link it with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

The Taos Express starts June 4 and will run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on a schedule that coincides with several Rail Runner arrival and departure times in Santa Fe. It will cost $10 per round-trip for adults. Children 10 and under will ride free.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Parq Central to Break Ground May 27

From: New Mexico Business Weekly

Developer David Oberstein will host a ground breaking for his Parq Central Hotel on May 27. At the event, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez and City Councilor Isaac Benton will address around 400 invited guests. Tours of the ground floor in the 1926 former hospital will be conducted from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

The former Memorial Hospital, at 806 Central Ave. SW in the historic Huning Highland neighborhood, is being converted into a 75-room boutique hotel. The project required an industrial revenue bond from the city and historic tax credits from the state.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Wanted: More of this kind of vision

Nice pix by Ernie Montoya of Rail Runner skirting the I-25. Lets now picture (and build) a downtown Arena area that will be a bustling entertainment zone and economic engine.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Group: Put Arena on Ballot

By Dan McKay
Copyright © 2009 Albuquerque Journal 5/3/2009
Journal Staff Writer

(Excerpts) A group pushing for a $400 million Downtown event center and hotel wants the city to get off the dime and put a tax proposal to fund the project on the ballot sooner rather than later.
It appears they have an uphill fight.

Undeterred, Steve Wedeen is leading a group of marketing, advertising and other professionals pushing for a project they say would boost tourism and lure business to the Convention Center.
"The impact is phenomenal," Wedeen said in a recent interview. "This is really an economic-stimulus package that invests in a smart, sound industry."

The city, the development team and others launched a viability assessment that was largely favorable. However, much of the evaluation came before or as the national economy was tightening last year

That hasn't deterred supporters, who say the lean market has driven down the cost of materials and labor. They argue the city might be able to build the project at a discount and be positioned to draw convention business and other activity as the economy rebounds.

Read story

My take: After riding a packed Rail Runner yesterday (Saturday) to an equally packed and vibrant Santa Fe Depot/Railyards (farmer's market, REI, new Flying Star, art galleries, superb kid friendly park), Albuquerque needs this forward thinking project to create an equally inviting, vibrant space (and economic engine). Like the Santa Fe Railyard project, this is an investment in the future. Until this happens, I fear the crowded trains (along with tourist/entertainment dollars) will mostly be running north. I'd much prefer to see crowded trains running both directions, especially on the weekends.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Washington Post: Cameras Reduce Speeding

From the Washington Post

Rockville, Md.: Just based on past performances, I would bet you do not like speed cameras. If so, is it a privacy issue? Is the road a private place?

The Beetles thought so. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road."

Marc Fisher: I can see from past performance, as you put it, why you might think I'd oppose speed cams. My libertarian streak could lead me there. But that's overwhelmed by my desire to get cops out fighting crime rather than doing simple gotcha work that a machine can handle. So I actually love speed cams, especially as I see more and more studies showing that average driving speeds on roads equipped with the cams really do come down quite impressively.

Washington, D.C.: I was surprised to learn that Chevy Chase, Maryland was making so much money off their speed cameras on Connecticut Ave. First that strip was always a speed trap. Now that most people know of the cameras, the speed on that portion of Connecticut has dropped to about 5 mph below the speed limit. The District has a car with a camera on Military Rd. just west of the park that has worked in slowing traffic down in the mornings as well.

Marc Fisher: I am amazed on a regular basis by the number of drivers I see speeding through that trap at 20 or more mph over the limit even though they see the bulk of their fellow motorists slowing to an unnatural crawl all the way through the village. Many of these fools actually weave through the various lanes of relatively law-abiding folks to get their moment in the flash of the speed cam.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Streetcar Would Return $4-$8 for Every $1 Invested

By J.W. Madison
Founder, Rails Inc.

We Albuquerqueños have finally arrived at a point in our history at which we realize that we need more and better transit. This is the good news.
The bad news is that, unlike cities all over the West, we're still fooling around with partial and obsolete solutions to this problem. We're still caught in the bus trap.

If car-crazy towns like Calgary, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix and Salt Lake City can break out of this trap, why can't we?

We need streets. We need cars and trucks for police, fire, emergency, construction, repair and delivery purposes. We need expanded facilities for bicycles, wheelchairs and feet. And we certainly need buses, big and small. But all these by themselves amount to branches without a trunk.

For the massive daily work of moving commuters, students, event-goers and tourists, and of facilitating people-powered transportation, nothing does it like a train. Here are some of the reasons:

• Fuel/energy economy that's two to three times that of bus-based transit. This picture gets even prettier when you realize that roads, unlike rails, are themselves made largely out of petroleum products.

• Long life and low upkeep. A modern rail vehicle lasts at least twice as long as a bus, and similar durability applies to rails vs. roads.

• Safety, convenience and reliability in all kinds of weather. And, though rail systems are not immune to disastrous weather episodes, they "weather" them more easily, and can be returned to service faster and cheaper when they do break down.

• Wise use of resources. A rail system moves from three to four times the people (or tons of freight) as does a road system using up the same amount of steel, concrete or real estate.

• Renewal of city centers and first-ring suburbs. Rail promotes more choices in residential and commercial infrastructure. In other words, rail fights sprawl. This may not be good news to everyone, but it is to an ever-increasing number of us.

• No tire disposal problem. Toxic and flammable tire mountains are becoming a serious problem worldwide, and they're not that easy or safe to recycle.

• People really like riding trains. There a problem with that? People by the thousands will ride a train who won't ride a bus; although oddly enough, implementation of rail transit leads to increased use of non-rail transit, if the system is configured properly. And any good transit system promotes walking and biking as well.

So what progress are we making toward city rail for Albuquerque?

After the modern streetcar initiative failed in 2006, the 21st Century Transportation Task Force, chaired by Isaac Benton, was convened to study local transportation and related tax policy and to make recommendations. I was a member.

After eight months of twice-monthly meetings, a large majority of us recommended increases in funding for transit, biking and walking improvements; including an improved modern streetcar proposal. "Streetcar II" would cover a long-enough distance (Central from Atrisco to San Mateo) to be the start of a citywide rail transit network.

Our findings were sensible and modest — hardly an incitment to riot — yet there they lie, stuck in Albuquerque's nearsighted and contentious politics. Abundant proof exists that tax money invested in rail transit multiplies four-to eightfold in various benefits to the public. Rail doesn't cost, it pays. Not for years, but for generations.

Given this high return on public investment, it's a wonder indeed that these cost-effective taxpayer's delights are still widely regarded as a waste of money. Epithets like these are misleading red herrings; the equivalent of "Commie" and "Pinko" in transportation discourse.

If anything is more truly conservative than a return to the public of $4 to $8 dollars for every tax dollar spent, I for one have no idea what it is.

Add to this the benefits, financial and otherwise, of a cleaner environment, greater energy self-sufficiency, better health and more money in your pocket and you have to wonder just who around here is responsible for our backwater status in transportation.

One of the biggest jobs of our political leaders is to invest our tax money in what promises the greatest return, financially and otherwise. Modern rail is a proven winner in both areas.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Killed by Red Light Runner

From the Los Angeles Times:

By Mike DiGiovanna and Bill Shaikin
3:07 PM PDT, April 9, 2009

Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two friends were killed today when a minivan driven by an alleged drunk driver broadsided their car after running a red light, authorities said.

The crash occurred hours after the 22-year-old appeared in Wednesday night's Angels game. He died shortly after midnight when the minivan slammed into the car in which he was riding at the intersection of Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street in Fullerton, police said.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Killed by Red Light Runner

From Los Angeles Times (3/31/09): The death of a USC student and the critical injury of another in a violent hit-and-run accident left the urban campus reeling Monday... Police say the driver had run a red light before the accident.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

LA Proposes Ban on Billboards, Supergraphics

From the LA Times: The Los Angeles Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend dramatically reworked restrictions on signs that would ban digital billboards and supergraphics -- the vinyl signs stretched across the sides of buildings -- throughout most of the city.

Sadly, Albuquerque has often followed LA's sprawly, car-centric development model. Here's one LA innovation we SHOULD follow.

Question: We know the hideous collection of billboards on the I-25 soil our spectacular mountain and desert vistas. What does the city get in return for such blight?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

UNM Stadium Area Master Plan

UNM has released information on a Master Plan for the stadium area. An interactive page has been created that allows visitors to click on completed projects (such as the indoor football practice facility and impressive accompanying landscaping) and planned upgrades (such at the Pit). Probably most welcome is the comprehensive landscaping plan featuring numerous trees that is sorely needed. Cannot tell if restaurants are included but they would be a welcome addition to the game day experience; as will be the planned Rail Runner stop on Cesar Chavez. Speaking of, a Rail Runner official told me in December there was a good chance the station would be available for football games. I'm a bit skeptical of that target date as I have yet to see activity on the station.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Red Light Runner at Carlisle and Montgomery

Red light cameras are an imperfect reaction to a larger problem: our car dependent culture. Whether its Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, or Houston — all cities I have visited recently — this country has major driving issues. I do support the red light cameras (and think there should be more of them), but wish the money was directed at improving driving in this city through more roundabouts and other traffic calming solutions. In the book Traffic: How We Drive and What It Says About Us, author Tom Vanderbilt writes that the second most dangerous thing a driver can do is drive through an intersection. The single most dangerous thing a driver can do is to make a left turn at an intersection (as illustrated in this video). Roundabouts, while not practical at all intersections, greatly reduce the danger of the second concern, and all but eliminate the danger of the first concern.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flip a Strip - Contest Reimagines Strip Malls

Goal of this design contest is to "highlight useful and innovative concepts for the sustainable re-use of Strip Malls and to launch productive public dialog about the potential of good design and civic engagement."