Criticism of New Mexico's commuter rail system heats up as officials claim Rail Runner starves other transportation projects of funding.
"The administration's $400 million project runs from Belen to Bernalillo and this year is scheduled to extend to Santa Fe. It has become a focal point for bipartisan criticism, with complaints that it won't reduce highway congestion and is gobbling up too much state money, leaving other initiatives underfunded."
"'We have a tiger by the tail, and this thing is just out of control,' said Sen. John Grubesic, a Santa Fe Democrat."
"The state is almost $500 million short of what's needed to pay for highway projects approved four years ago, threatening to delay some of them."
"The administration disputes that there is a connection between Rail Runner spending and the shortfall in highway funding."
"Transportation Secretary Rhonda Faught blames the problem mainly on rising construction costs and lower-than-expected federal revenue."
"But Rail Runner critics say the cities on the train line don't have the population density to justify the expense of the service."