No ART in Trump’s Budget

No ART in Trump’s Budget

Only fully funded transit projects find their way into White House budget

ABQ Could Be Left with $69 Million Hole in Central Avenue

See earlier story on city’s ART funding options if federal funding is dead

The Trump administration may just have thrown Mayor Richard Berry’s $126 million Albuquerque Rapid Transit project under the bus.

ABQ Free Press April 6, 2016 cover

Our April 6, 2016, cover by cartoonist Gary Glasgow drew criticism as being overly harsh.

Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget, which was released Thursday, does not contain the $69 million Federal Transit Administration grant the mayor has repeatedly said is coming.

Officials at the FTA said that if ART does not appear on the current list of “fully funded” projects, it’s won’t get any more federal money.

That would put the City of Albuquerque – taxpayers, Berry and the City Council – in a real bind, both politically and financially.

Because Congress couldn’t agree on a budget for the current budget year, the U.S. government is currently being funded on an extension of the FY 2016 budget. It’s possible a deal in Congress could be struck between now and Oct. 1 to find the money for ART and other transit projects like it.

Or, more likely, Congress may simply be content to fund the government at current levels through Sept. 30. “A lot of people don’t like doing that, but it’s a possibility,” said a congressional staffer who asked not to be identified.

Bottom line: If Congress doesn’t act, the $69 million promised by the Obama administration vanishes.

That would leave the State of New Mexico, Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque as possible sources to patch up Central, finish ART and buy the buses needed to see the mayor’s bus transit dream come true.

Here’s what Rhiannon Samuel, a spokesperson for Berry, said early Thursday afternoon:

“Based off our best understanding today, we are in no different of a situation than we were before. Our goal is, and continues to be included in the congress approved FY17 Budget. We have strong support from our congressional delegation as we have positive, ongoing conversations with them and representatives from the DOT and the FTA. There is no new information today that leads us to believe that this project won’t be included in the 2017 budget. The professionals have repeatedly reported to us that no time in the history of the small starts grant has a city not been funded, especially if their project is already underway.”

While the the state’s congressional delegation, or at least four of them, may support ART, they’re Democrats.

Republicans control Congress and New Mexico’s only GOP representative, is on record as opposing projects like ART.

Dennis Domrzalski is an associate editor at ABQ Free Press.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.
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10 Comments

  • John
    March 16, 2017, 5:17 pm

    That’s what you get when trying to fund bogus, not needed projects rather than giving the money to your schools, etc.

    REPLY
  • Elena
    March 16, 2017, 7:43 pm

    OMG! Before starting this project, they should have gotten the funding first…….But Huckleberry doesn’t think…….Central Ave is a big mess!!!! Those funds could have helped so many other much needed projects, but that type of thinking is too logical…..

    REPLY
  • Leonard
    March 16, 2017, 8:03 pm

    Thank you for writing this, I agree with your views. Are you a product of APS? I would appreciate it if you had your pieces proof read. Terrible spelling, grammar and sentence structure.

    REPLY
    • Bill Zamora@Leonard
      March 16, 2017, 8:20 pm

      I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the other comments. Those who supported this disaster should be required to drive central daily, and pay for the shortfall/repairs out of their own pockets!

      REPLY
  • Bill
    March 16, 2017, 8:41 pm

    Hope they have enough money to fix the damage. It was stupid pork from the gitgo.

    REPLY
  • Christy Ortega
    March 17, 2017, 8:26 am

    Time to revise, downsize and finish ART. Cancel the new buses, remove the barriers on Central, and hope that the businesses can survive. When will the City Council represent the People of Albuquerque? When will Mayor Richard Berry’s ties to TLC Plumbing be investigated?

    REPLY
    • Dan Ripley@Christy Ortega
      March 17, 2017, 5:25 pm

      Completely agree. They’re saying losing funding is unlikely because it’s never happened before, but we’ve never had a living fustercluck like this in the White House before, either.

      REPLY
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