City fronts ART costs while waiting on federal funds

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) - The mayor’s office said if federal money doesn’t start flowing in soon for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project, the city may have to start delaying or even canceling other road projects.

The city hoped for at least $70 million from the feds to help cover the controversial ART. The last mayor thought it was a lock.

“I feel good that we will have this in a position that the next mayor, whoever he or she is doesn’t have to make that heavy lift,” former mayor Richard Berry said at a news conference in May 2017.

Almost a year later, the new Keller administration claims the city hasn’t seen a dime of it.

It says the Berry administration borrowed $75 million to front the project costs.

“They basically loaned themselves some dollars from the projects that were already approved from transportation-related infrastructure,” Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael said.

That’s money from general obligation dollars and the quarter-cent transportation tax earmarked for much needed road work.

However, until Congress and President Donald Trump pass a budget that will reimburse the city of Albuquerque, Rael stated those projects “may get delayed or may not get built at all if the funds are not realized from the federal government.”

The city’s $75 million loan to itself could grow for a project that is about 80-percent complete.

The city still hasn’t paid for the buses and more bills will come due when the construction is finally finished.

As for the roadwork on the waiting list, it’s a waiting game.

The city said it could know by March whether federal funds will be available to the city to replenish what’s been spent on ART.

“We’re hopeful that maybe by the summer we’ll have some,” Rael said. “But really at this point, it’s a guessing game.”

The city’s hoping for $50 million in this year’s federal budget and another $20 million or so next year.

ART was supposed to be up and running in December. There is still no estimate on when the bus system will be good to go.


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