U.S. Transportation Secretaey Pete Buttigieg announces infrastructure grants coming to New Mexico at a press conference in Deming.

Planes, trains and automobiles: Buttigieg announces infrastructure grants

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg traveled to New Mexico this week and announced grants for 37 projects across 19 states including several infrastructure modernization projects across the state, such as upgrading natural gas pipelines to prevent methane leaks and road maintenance. Buttigieg visited Deming Wednesday as part of the “Investing in America” Tour and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss rural infrastructure and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that became law in November 2021. The federal, bipartisan legislation included a program that awards $1 billion over five years to prevent gas leaks in both rural and urban communities, Buttigieg said. “There’s a savings that comes from more efficient and more modern infrastructure,” Buttigieg said. “Infrastructure has been here for decades, sometimes built with technologies or materials that didn’t withstand the kind of pressures that you can with newer sorts of pipelines that are being built. All of that is also part of our fight against costs and prices, so many things going up across the country.”

Buttigieg added that the benefits include cost, safety and climate benefits from the pipeline upgrades.

New Mexico and Texas could get new interstate

A new interstate, I-27, could run from Laredo, Texas to Raton as part of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor. U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico, signed onto bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Republicans from Texas, to formally name the Ports-to-Plains Corridor Interstate 27. U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington, a Republican from Texas,introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. “I was proud to work together with Senator Cruz to designate a portion of the Ports-to-Plains Corridor as an addition to the interstate system last Congress,” Luján said in a news release. “We are continuing to work together to support the development of this corridor in New Mexico and Texas.

As transportation tech hits new age, New Mexico lags behind

State Sen. James White, R-Albuquerque, recently joined state legislators from around the country for a meeting of the Council of State Governments in Detroit, Michigan. At one event, he and two others sat in a car. White wasn’t driving. Neither was anyone else in the car. In fact, there was no steering wheel.

Berry admin not worried, but federal funds for ART not set in stone

Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry’s administration is voicing confidence that $50 million in federal funding will come their way to help finance the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project. That’s at least what the city’s Chief Operations Officer Michael Riordan said Monday evening at a city council meeting. He mentioned that former President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations include “a $50 million earmark” for the bus rapid transit project and that even though Congress hasn’t approved a budget, the money is still “currently on the legislative docket to be passed.”

ART, now well into construction with torn roads and narrow lanes that hold back traffic in the heart of Central Avenue, is projected to be 10 miles of dedicated lanes in the street for a rapid bus system with 20 stations. The project is slated to be up and running this fall, but it’s drawn controversy among some residents and business owners along the route, who have blamed slow sales on the project’s construction. More controversy came last week when President Donald Trump released his budget recommendations for fiscal year 2018, which freezes all funding for a Federal Transit Administration grant program for local public transportation projects—including ART.

Uber bill rides to House floor

A bill adding regulations to rideshare companies passed its second House committee unanimously, with uproar coming only from taxi cab lobbyists. The measure would put companies like Uber and Lyft under authority of the state Public Regulation Commission. However, local taxi companies strongly oppose the idea because it wouldn’t subject the rideshare to the same regulations. Specifically, lobbyists for Capital City Cab in Santa Fe and Yellow Cab in Albuquerque lamented how the bill doesn’t subject rideshare services to the state Motor Carriers Act. “They claim they are not subject because they use an app,” Raymond Sanchez, lobbyist for Yellow Cab, told the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon.

ABQ gives Uber six-month airport trial

Effective immediately, people in Albuquerque are now able to use the ride-hailing app Uber to hitch a ride to the Albuquerque International Sunport. Mayor Richard Berry made the announcement of a deal with Uber Tuesday afternoon, saying that its use is a “disruptive” business model and the way of the future. “The world’s changing,” Berry said in a short press conference in the Sunport’s parking lot. “And we want to make sure those who are here can flourish, but we also want to make sure that we are a city that invites in disruptive new technologies and this is an important step for us as a city.”

The deal between the city and Uber requires that the ride-hailing company pay Albuquerque $1 for every passenger it either picks up from or drops off at the airport. Uber is also required to report its number of airport passengers to the city every 10 days.

Onboard with the Rail Runner? | two views by Rey Garduño & Paul Gessing

EDITOR’S NOTE: What do you think about the efficacy of New Mexico’s Rail Runner train system? Some love it, some hate it, almost everyone has an opinion. Below, you’ll find two strong, conflicting views about the rail service. First, an opinion editorial from ABQ City Councilor Rey Garduño on why he thinks the rail system is “an invaluable service” for New Mexicans. Second, a direct response from Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation who thinks Garduño is “just wrong on the Rail Runner.”