Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pueblo likely new stop for Southwest Chief

A former South Dakota governor now running an embattled race for the US Senate blew Amtrak funding on an airplane for his own personal use.

The Southwest Chief received nearly $12.5 million in federal aid this week after reporting about 356,000 riders in 2013.
In May, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill creating a commission to work with officials in Kansas and New Mexico, who also could have had stations affected, to try to keep the current route. It also proposed an additional stop in Pueblo. A 2014 report by two professors from Colorado State University at Pueblo said a station in Pueblo could increase tourism and add close to $3 million in visitor spending, and an estimated $175,000 in state and local tax revenue based on 2013 fiscal year numbers. [Stephen Hobbs, Colorado Springs Gazette]
Until a serious mass transit system happens on the rez industrializing the land makes little sense. Put the old Milwaukee rail bed back into passenger service between Sioux Falls and Rapid City with stops in Kadoka, Belvidere and Murdo. After upgrades the new Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern spur from RC to Dakota Junction could handle passenger service, too.

The Rail Runner between south of ABQ and Santa Fe goes through several pueblos and is well-supported with stops in each community: it has brought at least access to prosperity in an historically poor state.

South Dakota recently secured some $12 million in rail funding to pay political favors to grain shippers while junkets by the state's GOP legislators have come under question.

New Mexico's governor says she wants to maintain the state's share of the line but her party is saying no:
Discussions centered on a five-way share of the estimated $200 million price to maintain the tracks for the next decade. New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Amtrak and BNSF each considered contributing $4 million annually for 10 years to prevent rerouting the Southwest Chief. A proposal to that effect died in the New Mexico Legislature this year, while Colorado lawmakers and the Kansas Department of Transportation advanced funding plans, including pursuing federal transportation grants. [Patrick Malone, Steve Terrell, Santa Fe New Mexican]
Republicans haul commodities while Democrats also choose to move social capital: more reasons midterm elections are important to American Indians and young voters.

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