July 09, 2009

Governor Bill Richardson & Senator Tom Udall Announce Plans to Study High-Speed Rail Linking New Mexico, Colorado & Texas

SANTA FE- Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Tom Udall today announced that New Mexico is partnering with Colorado and Texas to take the initial steps in developing a high-speed rail corridor between El Paso and Denver running through New Mexico.

Congress has authorized up to eleven high-speed corridors across the U.S. Currently only 10 corridors have been designated. The three-state partnership is seeking the 11th designation and will be applying for federal funds to conduct a viability study.

"The Southwest should not be left out as President Obama seeks to build high speed rail networks across the nation," said Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. "Today, you cannot get from Albuquerque to Denver by rail without changing trains in Los Angeles or Chicago and our regional railways run from East to West, with no North-South connections. This study will lay the groundwork to make a major improvement to public transportation in the Southwest and bring new opportunities for tourism and business growth in New Mexico."

"The overwhelming success of the New Mexico RailRunner is proof of the demand for more modern, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation options," Governor Bill Richardson said. "High-speed rail is the future of our country and is going to be a major boost to the economic vitality of the cities and states along its routes. With this designation, New Mexico will be in better position to meet the evolving economic, workforce, and transportation demands of the 21st Century."

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama launched an aggressive effort to develop a national network of high-speed passenger rail lines. The president unveiled a strategic plan identifying $8 billion in federal stimulus funds and a separate five-year, $5 billion investment as a down payment to jump-start the nation's high-speed rail lines.

"We are excited to partner with our Western neighbors on this exciting opportunity. High-speed rail has long been a conversation in Colorado, and this designation would provide the funding needed to further examine its feasibility," Colorado Governor Bill Ritter said. "There is a great deal of movement of people, goods and services along the Front Range and the entire Colorado-Texas-New Mexico corridor, and it is high time Congress designate a Western corridor. This designation would connect our communities, increase economic opportunities, create jobs, and lead Colorado's transportation infrastructure forward."

"Improving and expanding our transportation infrastructure is vitally important in a state that grows by more than 1,000 people each day," Texas Governor Rick Perry said. "As we look for more efficient ways to keep Texans moving, high-speed rail is an important option, which is why I am supportive of this and other high-speed rail projects across Texas."

New Mexico, Colorado and Texas could receive up to $5 million from the Federal Railroad Administration under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 to study the viability of the El Paso to Denver High-Speed Rail Corridor. The three states will submit the joint pre-application for funds tomorrow, Friday July 10th.