Senators Prod Amtrak to Match Federal Grant

Two U.S. senators are trying to prod Amtrak into matching federal grant money obtained by a New Mexico county to be used to rebuild the route of the Southwest Chief.

Senators Tom Udal (D-New Mexico) and Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) offered an amendment to the 2019 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would “strongly encourage Amtrak to consult with stakeholders before adding conditions to any grant funds.”

The amendment came in response to a letter Amtrak sent earlier this year to public officials along the Chief’s route saying Amtrak would not match the grant obtained by Colfax County until a comprehensive funding plan is in place to rebuild the route between western Kansas and northern New Mexico.

Amtrak has earlier said it would provide $3 million if Colfax County landed the $16 million TIGER grant.

“The Southwest Chief is an engine of economic growth in New Mexico that connects rural communities from Raton to Gallup,” Udall said in a statement.

“I was pleased when the Southwest Chief received its latest TIGER grant — federal funding that been a big help in making badly-needed improvements to ensure a strong and stable future for the Southwest Chief in New Mexico.

“But Amtrak is threatening to pull out the rug from the New Mexico communities that are undertaking these critical repairs. That’s why I fought to ensure New Mexico has access to the funding we need and continue to have a say as we work to keep the Southwest Chief chugging long into the future.”

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