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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.

Events

New Lego exhibit at the Wheels Museum. View The New Mexico Lego Users Group has
partnered with WHEELS to have a beautiful Lego Train layout for children of all ages to enjoy. The exhibit will vary from season to season and we invite you to come see this new Lego train exhibit.

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.

Febuary 16, 11 am. Bob Bovee Long Steel Rails concert. This program for all ages presents songs and stories about the famous trains, rail workers, hobos, train wrecks and train robbers. Call or email Leba Freed for reservations at (505) 243-6269 or leba4@aol.com.

March 17, Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at WHEELS. Movie, tours, train ride and food celebration.

April 1, 1 pm. Doug Figgs and Badger. Back by popular demand. By reservations only (505) 243- 6269. Doug’s show was sold out last year, so call early! Donation: $10.00.

April 8, 11 am. “Historic Albuquerque” Ronn Perea will present old Albuquerque anecdotes including delightful stories about our beloved Alvarado Hotel and the politicians, actors and entertainers who stayed there. This is a free event but, of course, donations are always appreciated.

April 22, Wheels Museum Day trip to Rancho De Chimayo Restaurante, El Santuario de Chimayo and the Santa Fe Plaza. Call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for more information. The museum is a 501C3 non-profit community organization whose mission is to create a transportation museum at the downtown Albuquerque Steam Locomotive Repair Shops.

May 19-May 23, Train trip to the Grand Canyon. Only a few spaces left.Scheduled through Amtrak Vacations, call Leba or Janet at (505) 243-6269 for reservations and more information.