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Federal budget may yield funds for ART

The city continues to find problems with the buses provided for the ART project. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

Federal funding for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project isn’t earmarked in the recently passed omnibus budget passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last week, but officials say there are a few hopeful signs contained within it.

The agreement reached between House and Senate committees makes $400.9 million available for Small Starts grants.

ART is expected to receive roughly $75 million under the Small Starts program.

“We’re very encouraged with the language that was included in the budget, which includes funding for projects like A.R.T. and we look forward to continuing to work with the FTA to ensure that our project meets all of the appropriate criteria for funding,” Bernie Toon, director of the city’s Transit Department, said in a statement.

“We appreciate our congressional delegation for helping to move this funding forward. But there is still no guarantee, this will ultimately be a choice for the FTA.”

Language is also included that stipulates the secretary of transportation obligate the Small Starts money to projects by Dec. 19, 2019.

City Councilor Pat Davis, one of seven who voted to fund the project in 2016, said the government won’t pay out until a date for commencing service is given.

While the construction on ART is virtually complete, issues with obtaining the fully electric buses have delayed its start.

Davis said the onus is now on the mayor and administration to get the bus line running before then.

Officials with the Keller administration have stated the ART project is closer to completion than many of the other projects and hope it’s closer to the front of the line when it comes to actually receiving the funding.

“Others are in the early design and development stages,” Albuquerque Chief Operating Officer Lawrence Rael said in a meeting with Journal editors and reporters last month.

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