Albuquerque Sues Over Lighting On Problem-Plagued Bus Route

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest city has sued companies involved in the design and construction of a rapid transit system over light fixtures that have fallen or weren't secured.

The Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus system has been plagued with problems that include electrical charging, wheelchair access on platforms, mirrors hitting canopies and crashes on the bus routes that run along Central Avenue, a major city corridor.

Albuquerque is seeking at least $2.5 million in compensatory damages and another $10 million in punitive damages as part of a lawsuit it filed last week regarding the light fixtures.

At least 46 streetlights either have fallen to the ground or had to be removed because they were being held in place by only electrical wiring, endangering the public, the lawsuit contends. Some of the 25-pound (11-kilogram) lights have fallen up to 25 feet (7.6 meters) onto the street, according to the lawsuit.

Ill-fitting screws and other parts provided by the manufacturer caused the lights to loosen from light poles, according to a reported prepared for the city.

The company that manufactured the lights, California-based Environmental Lighting for Architecture Inc., told the Albuquerque Journal that the firm has reached out to the city in hopes “a swift and amicable solution can be found.”

The firm's president, Scott Jones, said the lighting fixtures had been modified by an outside source against its recommendations.

The general contractor for the bus system, Bradbury Stamm Construction, and Massachusetts-based Dalkia Energy Solutions, which was hired to convert the city's streetlights to LED lighting, did not respond to the newspaper's requests for comment.

Another defendant, New Mexico-based architectural firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini, said it had no part in the selection or installation of the streetlights and should not have been named in the lawsuit.

The city of Albuquerque said it spent about $494,000 to secure, retrofit and replace streetlights on the bus route.

The city began service on the route in November 2019 using diesel-powered buses after it rejected electric buses that had insufficient battery life and other problems.

Former Mayor Richard Berry had proposed the bus system as a way to transform Central Avenue. Some businesses argued it restrict access for customers and lead to more traffic problems.