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The Latest Train Numbers

It’s been awhile since Governor Richardson’s train to nowhere has been in the news. But, I thought you might find this interesting:

The $400 million budget for the Albuquerque-to-Santa Fe phase of the Rail Runner project is also still partially unfunded. Congress promised to contribute $75 million, but the state hasn’t yet received the money. Because of the delay, Richardson asked lawmakers during the last legislative session to set aside $35 million for the project. At the time, his spokesman said the governor would make up the other $40 million next year.

In the Albuquerque area, the trains have carried more than 360,000 riders since the service began in July 2006.

The good news is that we’re not yet at the $1.3 billion I projected in December of 2005. The bad news is that the $400 million price tag for this latest portion is rapidly approaching double what was originally pitched for this segment, and I’m willing to bet it will be more when all is said and done.

And, I ought to add a little perspective here… Some of you might be pretty darn excited about that “360,000 riders” since July of 2006. That is until you take a look at the traffic flow map of the Greater Albuquerque area and realize that over 170,000 people are driving just one small section of the Big I in a single day!

Between 2000 and 2002, $293 million was spent on the Big I construction, which included the construction of 45 new bridges and 111 miles of road reconstruction, to accommodate 300,000 vehicles per day. Compare that to the rapidly approaching $1 billion in costs of Governor Richardson’s train to serve 360,000 people over nearly a year.

Oh, and it is significant to note that the Big I roadway project actually came in under budget. When was the last time you heard of anything done by the Richardson administration coming in under budget? The answer is quite possibly never.