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Albuquerque to see commuter rail by summer 2005

By Dennis Domrzalski

New Mexico Business Weekly

Thursday, February 12, 2004

A $55 million to $70 million commuter rail line running through Albuquerque from Belen to Bernalillo will be operating by July of 2005, Gov. Bill Richardson announced Thursday.

The Belen to Bernalillo run is the first phase of Richardson’s plan to run commuter train service to Santa Fe.

“The process to create a commuter rail line is well underway. We are the only state in the West to make a commitment to commuter rail. We want to be a beachhead to say that rail works,” Richardson said during a talk at the Alvarado.

Transportation Center in Downtown Albuquerque.
Richardson said the state has $30 million in pocket for the project, and is looking to the federal government for the other $25 million. The money would be spent on upgrading tracks and signal systems and on commuter rail cars, Richardson said.

The line would run on the tracks of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railroad. State officials are currently negotiating with the railroad on issues relating to the commuter service, Richardson said.

Lawrence Rael, executive director of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments, said the Belen to Bernalillo route would have six to eight stations, including stops in downtown Albuquerque, Belen, Los Lunas and Bernalillo. Service would initially be Monday-through Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Rael said.

The cost of the project is cheap when compared to highway projects, Rael said.

For instance, the reconstruction of the Coors and I-40 interchange on Albuquerque’s Westside will cost $75 million to $90 million, Rael said.


Railyard Worker Commemorative Plaques. Honor a loved one who worked on the railroad, honor a WHEELS volunteer or honor the WHEELS Museum. WHEELS is now selling plaques with name plates for $100.00 per name.  Keep the memory of these people alive in perpetuity with a gorgeous wooden plaque with brass name plate. Thank those who made our city and state successful, built the railroad, continue to work to preserve our history and create our future. The plaques will be displayed in the Community Room at WHEELS.

Contact Paulette Miller Weir who is graciously supporting the project and has volunteered to orchestrate this work. Her phone number is (505) 227-3270.  Please send checks for $100.00 per name and a few other words such as dates of birth or death or job held to WHEELS Museum, PO Box 95438 Albuquerque, NM 97199 or contact Ms. Miller Weir for any questions.  We can also accept credit cars payment by calling WHEELS-6269.

June 24, 10 - Noon, “LEGO Club Meeting”. See how LEGOS become vehicles, houses, bridges, animals and view amazing Lego displays. Learn how to build with Legos and meet Lego Masters. Space is limited.  Children are welcome, but must be accompanied by an adult. Call Leba at (505) 243-6269  or email to Leba4@aol.com.. Admission is free, donations are encouraged.

July 1, 1-2 pm, "Strings and Sings" Robin Howard in concert. “Strings and Sings” is a solo project of singer/songwriter Robin Howard. Robin covers all popular styles of music including Country, Classic Rock, Folk, Blues, and even original tunes. His music has earned him both praise and support from local musicians in Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. RSVP:505-243-6269 or email to Leba4@aol.com. Fee: $ 10.00

Do you have a few hours each month to help the Wheels Museum? Volunteers are needed so the Museum can be open more; run the model railroad trains, also help needed with events, marketing, fund raising. Call Leba Freed at (505) 243-6269.