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Congressional delegation address questions about ART

Joy Wang
April 11, 2017 07:27 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The cones are out and the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project construction is ongoing. But the question now is whether the giant hole along Central Avenue will end up being a financial hole of $69 million that the city of Albuquerque will have to fill.

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New Mexico's members of Congress said there's definitely uncertainty. Right now, there's no commitment in President Donald Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget to fund ART.

“When we look at commitments that have been made to projects around New Mexico, whether they're infrastructure projects, road projects or programs that support meals on wheels programs or school lunch programs that area all in question,” said Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M. “There's no certainty with what this administration will do or how the Republican congress will respond.”

It's still early.

“The president's budget is just the beginning point,” said Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M. “So we'll actually go to work in the house and we'll create the real budget, so you can just take that as an advisory position from the President.”

But with funds for ART unclear in President Trump's budget, there's still plenty of work to do at the U.S. Capitol.

“We do not want the city to be in a situation that passes along its projects holes right or budget deficit to consumers,” said Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, D-N.M. “We're going to have to figure it out, but until I get that budget in front of me with the details, I can't really tell you exactly what's going to hold and what isn't.”

Lujan Grisham, whose congressional district includes Albuquerque, said first they're trying to pass an omnibus bill by the end of the month.

“That would basically affirm all of those expenditures in this current fiscal year,” she said. “In that context, I'm not as worried that the president's budget for FY18 doesn't specifically have that funding.”

Then there's also the infrastructure package Congress is also working on.

“I don't see any indication we're trying to remove that infrastructure projects from their current commitments,” Lujan Grisham said.

While the city doesn't have the money yet, Mayor Richard Berry said he's confident in the state's congressional delegation.

“The plans that we have in place allow the project to finish and get into reimbursement mode,” he said. “That's kind of where we've been all along. There will be mechanisms that have to fall into place to do that because of the dollars that are at the city being appropriated towards the purpose.”

The city says all plans it has for the project can be reimbursed.

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Joy Wang

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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