New Mexico Critics Say Transportation Projects Suffer as Rail Runs

<p>Criticism of New Mexico's commuter rail system heats up as officials claim Rail Runner starves other transportation projects of funding.</p>
February 15, 2008, 10am PST | Nate Berg
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"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."

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Published on Thursday, February 14, 2008 in Associated Press
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