Albuquerque Rapid Transit
Albuquerque Rapid Transit
Developed from start to finish with the vision of creating a more connected and vibrant Central Avenue corridor, the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project (nicknamed ART) is the city’s first urban transit system to use a dedicated guideway. Its innovative alignment in a narrow corridor, off-board fare collection and 39 intersection treatments to give priority to transit vehicles, combined to make ART the first bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the United States to achieve the Gold Standard set by the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy.
At the time of project development, traffic delays at intersections and excessive curbside wait times hampered existing bus and mixed-flow BRT transit systems. Despite these complications, Albuquerque’s transit authority, ABQ Ride, continued to serve about 14,000 users per day, which was nearly 40 percent of the city’s total ridership.
The ART project opened to the public in late November 2017 to provide special event service for the holiday season. Full revenue service commenced in mid-December 2017.
World-Class Innovation in a Historic Corridor
In order to directly address service deficiencies, ART took the bold step of creating exclusive, center-running and bi-directional/reversible lanes for nearly 9 miles through the heart of Albuquerque along historic Route 66. The full range of BRT amenities, including innovative signaling technology, dynamic signage, and 16 miles of enhanced sidewalks, lighting and landscaping, elevated this project to one of the premier BRT projects in North America. Developing a custom design with wide stakeholder support required out-of-the-box thinking.
Central Avenue is a narrow corridor with heavy traffic during peak periods, and it is occupied by more than 1,200 businesses. Our design eliminated a lane of travel for about 60 percent of the corridor yet minimally impacted general traffic. In order to compensate for a lack of real estate along the corridor, our design borrows from freight rail and rail-transit design concepts. Albuquerque Rapid Transit uses a system of signals and sidings for short distances to create dedicated right-of-way for 97 percent of its alignment.
Its alignment supports existing mixed-use neighborhoods, encouraging new and revitalized development for the 280 vacant parcels within a half mile of its stations. With 19 level-boarding transit stations — four curbside and 15 in the median — ART aims to capture the “Spirit of Route 66.” It enhances mobility, strengthens economic opportunity, and provides a high-quality connection between the people of Albuquerque and their neighborhoods, job centers, schools, entertainment and public spaces. In fact, the ART line connects with 32 of the 37 other routes in the ABQ RIDE system and the Unser Transit Center, Alvarado Transportation Center, Uptown Transit Center and Tramway Boulevard.
A Trusted Partner from Beginning to End
HDR has led the ART project from the feasibility study stage, successfully partnering with the city to find their locally preferred alternative (LPA), and continue to lead the project through the environmental process. Our team supported the successful Small Starts grant application, wherein the project was awarded $50 million in federal funding, with an additional $25 million pending allocation. As the client’s trusted advisor, we explored alternative delivery options to minimize their risk and meet a tight deadline — coming up with a phased approach to construction that minimized corridor impacts and streamlined delivery utilizing the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) delivery method. HDR ensured that the project came in on budget at a projected cost of $133.6 million.