18 Miles of Rail Line Purchased for Santa Fe Trail (NM)

SANTA FE, NM, 1/12/05 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, Governor Bill Richardson, the State of New Mexico Department of Transportation, and the City and County of Santa Fe announced today the successful public acquisition of approximately 18 miles of active railroad right-of-way, also known as the Santa Fe Rail Line. Acquired from Santa Fe Southern Railway, Inc., the Santa Fe Rail Line will create an opportunity for commuter rail service for the communities of Eldorado, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque, and will provide essential hiking and biking trail linkages to the Santa Fe Railyard Park and Plaza.

Funding for the acquisition came from two grants to the City of Santa Fe – $5.4 million from the Federal Transportation Administration and $4.6 million from the State of New Mexico. All parties praised the New Mexico Congressional Delegation, comprised of Senator Pete Domenici, Senator Jeff Bingaman, and Congressman Tom Udall, for their support and aid in securing funding for this project.

Senator Domenici, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said, “I’m pleased to see the purchase of active railroad right-of-way for the Santa Fe Rail Line finalized. I have been involved in this project from the beginning, first by authorizing the project for federal funds, and later by working to continue federal transportation funds for it. The Trust for Public Land deserves credit for the outstanding work they have done to help bring commuter rail service to Albuquerque, Eldorado and Lamy, and I look forward to the day when this rail line is in operation.”

“Purchasing their right-of-way allows us to open up this corridor for the public’s benefit. Soon biking and walking trails will be added to this scenic route,” Senator Bingaman said.

U.S. Representative Tom Udall added, “The acquisition of this right-of-way is an important part of improving public transportation in our state.”

Governor Bill Richardson said, “This is a major milestone in our efforts to get commuter rail rolling from Belen to Santa Fe. I applaud everyone involved in this unique public-private partnership – Secretary Rhonda Faught, Senators Bingaman and Domenici, the City of Santa Fe, the Trust for Public Land, and Santa Fe Southern Railway. This project is a combination of economic development, environmental protection, and conservation. Commuter rail will create jobs, help grow our economy, provide a boost to our tourism industry, and get people out of their cars and into trains, reducing the number of accident, and fatalities on our roads and highways.”?

There has been a long history of support for public acquisition of this rail corridor. In 1995, the Trust for Public Land helped the City of Santa Fe acquire the 50-acre, downtown Railyard Property. Today, TPL remains involved in the design and development of 13 acres of new parklands at the site. In 2000, the city asked the Trust for Public Land to help secure public ownership of the entire railroad corridor from Santa Fe to Lamy. Numerous city council resolutions have been passed in support of this acquisition and the county and state have also worked cooperatively toward acquiring the corridor.

“TPL is very thankful for the work and leadership of the New Mexico congressional delegation and the vision and support of our Governor Bill Richardson. Santa Fe Southern Railway was a steadfast project partner and we are very thankful for their tenacity and cooperation. And, as always, we couldn’t do our work without our donors and supporters,” said Deb Love, state director, TPL New Mexico.

Bob Sarr, president of Santa Fe Southern Railway, described TPL’s involvement in the railroad right-of-way transaction as essential. “We appreciate TPL’s help in securing additional State funds. They also thoroughly researched all the title issues back to the 1880’s and assisted in the negotiations between the Railway and the State regarding the future operations of the rail line. Basically, they brought a comfort level to the transaction that everyone appreciated.”

The Santa Fe Rail Line is a one-of-a-kind property that was formerly the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (AT&SF) spur. The purchase includes all of the rail corridor from the intersection of Cerrillos Road and St. Francis Drive to County Road 33 near Lamy. The right-of-way corridor is nearly 18 miles long and varies between 30 feet to 300 feet in width. The purchase will include a permanent rail easement over the Lamy Wye to connect the Santa Fe Rail Line with the Burlington-Northern & Santa Fe (BN&SF) main line.

Santa Fe Southern Railway, Inc. will continue operating its freight and passenger excursion rail business over the rail line under a Joint Use Agreement with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. The rolling stock, which includes the engines and train cars, and the privately owned business of Santa Fe Southern Railway, are not included in the sale. Eventually, this railroad spur will become part of the commuter rail corridor connecting Santa Fe to Albuquerque with future connections around the state.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has protected nearly 2 million acres of land in 46 states. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For information, please visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.

Posted 1/2005