The Spectacle Blog

Richardson, Fiscal Conservative—Not!

By on 7.16.07 | 11:38AM

Paul Gessing takes a look at Governor Bill Richardson's claim to be a fiscal conservative and find its wanting (WSJ--subscription required). His profilgate spending has included this boondoggle:

Mr. Richardson also likes trains. One of his pet projects is the Rail Runner, a commuter train that connects the northern and southern suburbs of Albuquerque and has been beset with financial problems, although its full length has yet to be completed. An anticipated $75 million in federal financing for the project has fallen through, so state residents will have to foot the entire bill.

To complete the project, 20 miles of track will need to be run through the desert to Santa Fe at a total cost of about $400 million (not a small sum in this state). This for a train that will take an hour and 20 minutes to complete a trip that takes just one hour by car.

Usually, commuter rail is built to take automobiles off of the roads during rush hour. But Santa Fe is a city with just 70,000 residents, and some people wonder: How many cars can this train really replace? While there are isolated pockets of congestion, the problem in New Mexico isn't too many cars but too few overpasses and too many stoplights.

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