Skip to comments.Cost Overruns Could Halt Rail Runner Extension (NM-Richardson's Railroad)
Posted on 10/04/2007 7:31:11 AM PDT by CedarDave
Faced with rising costs, lawmakers questioned whether brakes should be applied to the Rail Runner project from Bernalillo to Santa Fe.
"It seems heavy-handed to ram this through when we have these open-ended funding issues," Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Sandia Park, said Wednesday during a Legislative Finance Committee hearing on transportation costs.
Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught had just told the group that an additional $6 million to $7 million is needed for the Rail Runner to install flashing lights and guard arms at 20 unprotected public and private crossings.
"Is there any consideration of putting a moratorium on the Rail Runner to Santa Fe?" Beffort asked Faught. Construction on that phase of the Rail Runner began last week.
Rep. Donald Bratton, R-Hobbs, said given that only 2,500 riders use the Rail Runner each day which now runs from Belen to Bernalillo the train is highly subsidized by the state and isn't an efficient use of state money.
Faught said the state already has let a $115 million contract and ordered $35 million in rail cars and locomotives for the Santa Fe phase. "A moratorium puts us in a risky situation," Faught said.
The estimated cost for the new crossings comes on the heels of the realization that there is no funding identified to pay for Rail Runner operations once federal funding disappears in 2009.
House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, sided with the transportation secretary in moving ahead with the Rail Runner. "The longer we wait, the more the construction will cost," Lujan said. "I think we are doing the right thing. I realize that it is costing a little more than was initially estimated."
Critics of the Rail Runner commuter train fear that operating costs will eat into money better used on road construction and maintenance.
(Excerpt) Read more at abqjournal.com ...
Last week, Gov. Richardson killed the method long assumed to be the way the state would pay for Rail Runner operational costs. It called for voters in a proposed transit district involving the counties traversed by the Rail Runner to approve or disapprove an eighth of a cent tax to pay for train operations. King Bill torpedoed the idea and said he opposed any tax increase to pay for the Rail Runner.
Two previous articles tell that story:
I personally believe that when the whole story of how fare recovery will be less than 10% of operating costs is raised in a special election, the voters would turn down the funding leading to the RR's demise. This is something Richardson can not allow to happen.
Crunch time will be upon us shortly!
But it IS a key item in Bill Richardson's Presidential-candidacy resume, so it must be maintained at all costs!
Wow ... I was going to post that Ha Ha Simpsons kid but that would really be pouring salt into NM’s open wound. Thank goodness Florida wised up and killed their high speed rail mandate. It had many of the same problems.
Did I read that right?
Did a Dimocrat actually turn down a chance to raise taxes???
Could I be mistaken about the man?
If you want on or off the NM Ping list, please FReepmail me.
As you say, "Naw."
Richardson is doing everything possible to keep his "moderate" image alive until after the primaries and Hillary selects a running mate. In the meantime the road situation gets worse here in NM, in spite of record oil and gas revenues (most of which go to state education). After that, there will have to be a tax increase, either statewide (which even rural Democrats are grousing about; see the earlier links) or a local transit district will need to be formed to raise money to operate it. The article is very clear -- there is no source of funding to operate it after 2009.
Richardson's plan is valid. If the democrats win in 2008, they will be happy to tax all of us to pay for Richardson's train. It's for the children, you know.
Yes and Richardson does not intend to be around when the .... hits the fan with the bill due for his pet project.
And have we not been telling them that this would be the inevetable outcome of this debacle since the idea was first floated?
Are we Prophets?
Merely the only people in NM with any common sense.
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