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Albuquerque - May 2006

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Albuquerque — Streetcar Design

Rail Transit Online, May 2006

The city council on Apr. 17 voted unanimously to approve an approximately $6-million contract with HDR Engineering Inc. to act as design consultant for a proposed $120-million, four-mile (6.4 km) modern streetcar line.  Also bidding for the job were Gannett Fleming West, Inc. and Huitt-Zollars but HDR had the highest qualifications, according to an advisory committee appointed to evaluate the proposals.  The state legislature has appropriated $8.1 million this year to begin planning the streetcar, a pet project of Mayor Martin Chavez.  The route would cross downtown, linking Old Town with Nob Hill along Central Avenue.  RTOL Contributing Editor Mac Sebree attended a news conference concerning the streetcar where Chavez said he expects the state of New Mexico to pay for most of the capital cost, with the city picking up the balance.  This will eliminate the need for federal funding and the frustrating delays to meet FTA requirements.  Sebree reports that critics believe the line will cost more than $120 million and that a proposed branch south from the University of New Mexico to the Albuquerque International Sunport (airport), also costing $120 million, might not be productive.  A second phase would take the line further east on Central, then north on Louisiana Boulevard which is considered a second downtown and contains many high-rise hotels and office buildings. 

Albuquerque’s Chief Operating Officer, Ed Adams, said it’s important to begin work on the initial segment as soon as possible because of rising construction costs, adding that city needs rail transit.   “I think it's fairly obvious that the modern streetcar project is a very critical piece in solving our transportation needs for the future,” he told The Albuquerque Tribune.  Adams said the exact cost of HDR’s contract hasn’t been determined because the concept of the planning process must still be decided.  Construction on the first phase is expected to begin within 18 months and be operational within 42 months, according to a statement issued by Mayor Chavez.


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