There has been a lot said about building bridges, not walls. Even Richard J. Berry, Mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico, has invoked the idea in regards to his pet project, the Albuquerque BRT/ART Project, that would destroy and terminate the existence of Central Avenue, and of the associated historic Route 66 segment that runs through Albuquerque, on its path along Central.
History, and historic protection, and preservation, are obviously not Berry’s strong points. He obviously probably never studied history; and if he did, he didn’t like it.
A Bit of History:
The above featured image is of a very large and very expensive bridge built with federal funds near Tacoma, in the State of Washington. The original structure, poorly designed, became known as ‘Galloping Gertie’.
Galloping Gertie became famous because of the famous and well-known windstorms that frequented the Tacoma narrows. Every time the winds would blow, the roadway would bow, and dip, and even rise. It was a harrowing experience for drivers, much worse for buses and trucks.
The engineers that built it could not fix it, but said instead, not to worry, “it may be a nuisance, but the bridge was not designed to ever fail.”
But “fail” it did. It collapsed one day in an early November, taking out the bridge, and traffic, and all. It is, of course, a cautionary tale.
brt – BUS RAPID TRANSIT
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is an innovative, high capacity, lower cost public transit solution that can significantly improve urban mobility. This permanent, integrated system, uses buses or specialized vehicles, on roadways or dedicated lanes to quickly and efficiently transport passengers to their destinations, while offering the flexibility to meet transit demand. BRT systems can easily be customized to community needs and incorporate state-of-the-art, low-cost technologies that result in more passengers and less congestion.
the berry brt (‘BB’) project
Mayor Berry’s BRT Project is different. It’s like a five year old owning a ‘BB gun‘ without any parental oversight or supervision.
Instead of designing a roadway (corridor, mixed traffic lane) BRT system with BRT Stations along the side, near sidewalks, Berry conceived of a plan that would have center-of-street, dangerous, elevated platforms, with BRT buses that would travel to and fro on dedicated (bus only) reinforced concrete guideways.
Why?, would be a reasonable question.
The answer appears to be painfully simple. Richard J. Berry is (or was) a construction contractor. All, or most of, his friends are in the construction and contractor business – they build things – they don’t like old things, don’t relate to “historical preservation.” The faster that you can “knock it down” and “build new” and the more often you do that, the greater the money, the bigger the profits.
But why all the steel rebar, and all the cement?
The key to following any proposed project is to “follow the money.” In this case it is worth asking who makes cement (concrete), and who benefits from the sale of steel (rebar). The cement people are GCC, a mega-company owned and operated out of Mexico, with a major plant in Tijeras (New Mexico).
Real BRT in Albuquerque doesn’t need all that cement for the dedicated guideways, nor for the 20 plus planned elevated platforms. But cement does need rebar (reinforcing bar). And that’s where the steel people cut in, (steel, steal – it’s fun, it’s a pun). It looks like it is Harris or CMC, or maybe both, that are slated to benefit. The fact that Route 66 was about black asphalt, not dyed and colored cement, is irrelevant (they feel), it’s about “new,” not nostalgic, not history, and certainly not about preservation.
the not so great albuquerque wall
Make no mistake, the cement barrier version of BRT for Central is a wall, not a bridge. But the Galloping Gertie cautionary tale is still relevant. Some projects are just so big that they are destined for disaster. People get hurt in disasters, lose their businesses, lose their livelihoods, lose their homes. Often the contagion spreads as the economic fallout “falls out.” People leave town, or flee town, new people fail to move in, soon the entire area business cycle falters and fails; it’s basic, it’s Economics 101.
Other pages on this website get more into the specifics. All posts point out that the ABQ BRT/ART Project is too big, too complicated, apparently too corrupt, that it can’t help but fail.
So, we know the end game – it’s a BRT guideway “road to ruin.” It’s a guideway without guidance. The only real issue is how many people and businesses and residents and residences will be hurt and wiped out before there is an end to the madness.
Serve, Preserve, Protect – maybe it’s an oath of office, or maybe the ART Project is a police matter now.