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Just About What You’d Expect

The Albuquerque Journal has given an awful lot of ink to the Rail Runner train system over the last few days. Yesterday, aside from the hopes and dreams of various politicians, the main point was that Governor Richardson’s much ballyhooed project is already running behind schedule (subscription).

Mind you, this revelation comes on the heels of a series of articles that confirmed that the project is already at least $200 million over initial projected budgets (subscription). Is the Administration concerned about the delays and rapidly escalating costs (subscription)?

State planners in a special February 2004 Journal report on the commuter train pegged the cost of building the service at $55 million to $75 million between Belen and Bernalillo and more than $250 million between Bernalillo and Santa Fe.

Neither figure included the costs of a track lease or purchase. At that time, planners believed they would be leasing the line and included lease costs in their operating-cost estimates, not their construction-cost estimates.

Faught said her agency knew well over a year ago that it needed to use more than $300 million of GRIP money to pay for the service, supplemented by federal funding that is now anticipated at $75 million.

Currently, “we show $318 million out of the GRIP,” she said, referring to the state money.

But Gene Moser, a fiscal analyst for the Legislative Finance Committee, said Faught’s agency has not told committee legislators of that funding plan in at least the past year.

Ok, there you have it… No Worries. The administration can handle this by simply not informing the legislators of the true costs.

But wait a minute, if the first part of the choo-choo was supposed to cost $55 – $75 million and instead cost $393 million, then what will the Bernalillo to Santa Fe portion really cost? It is was estimated at $250 million. Based on current performance to budget that would peg the true cost at somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.3 billion. An amount just shy of the entire transportation package for our road infrastructure.

On second thought, it seems there is plenty to worry about.