Halt Rail Runner in its pricey tracks

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By The Staff

While it appears to be popular in this political season to take pot shots at the Rail Runner, Mark Mathis in his recent op-ed missed the boat. Mathis claims that the original cost for the Rail Runner project was $122 million with the final cost at “nearly four times this amount.”

The first report to the state in 2004 indicated that the capital costs for the entire project would be about $325 million excluding the cost of purchasing or leasing the track. The project cost came in at $400 million, $325 million for capital and  $75 million for the track purchase. The 2004 estimated capital cost held true, despite dramatic increases in fuel, concrete, steel and other material costs over the life of the project.

For the 2010 fiscal year, fares cover about 14 percent of the operating costs. Fees paid by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad and Amtrak cover another 7 percent. The voter-approved tax contributes another 54 percent and Federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality funds cover the majority of the balance.

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