Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rail plan may hinge on N.M. governor's support

A proposal to bring Amtrak's Southwest Chief train through Colorado and two other states could get stopped in its tracks by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. Proponents fear the plan to run Southwest Chief on tracks owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway will hinge on the Republican governor's support. Martinez has said in recent months that Amtrak is funded by Congress and any agreement should not leave New Mexico taxpayers with a large bill. Her office did not respond to questions Friday.  "According to the New Mexico (Department of Transportation), the state has never provided state funds for Amtrak service," Martinez's office said in January. "We're willing to work together on this issue, but any agreement needs to take that reality into account." Under the plan, New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas would split track maintenance costs and ensure the train route remains active beyond 2015. The partnering states and railroads would have to provide roughly $4 million a year each for a decade. A bill introduced by state Rep. Roberto "Bobby" Gonzales that would call for New Mexico to contribute funding is scheduled for a hearing Tuesday before the House Transportation and Public Works Committee, which Gonzales chairs. 

The Southwest Chief, spanning from Los Angeles to Chicago, travels through several New Mexico cities, including Albuquerque, Gallup, Lamy and Las Vegas. If no funding agreement is reached by the end of 2015, most of those cities, as well as towns in Colorado and southwest Kansas will be eliminated from the route. Adding to the urgency, Burlington Railway announced it won't maintain its tracks to endure high speeds of passenger trains. Lawmakers say the train would help increase economic development and tourism...more

 Seems like every form of government spending lately is justified by claiming it will "increase economic development."   Problem is, if it requires government spending, its not economic. In other words if it is economic the market has determined its success and development will occur without any political support.  An honest description would be it will "increase uneconomic development."

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