July 2017 - Issue 72
Monthly Transportation News from and for the Region 
Rio Metro gets a Handle on Assets in Management Plan

The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that there is a $90 billion backlog in the deferred maintenance and replacement of public transit assets. Likewise, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave America's public transit infrastructure a D- in 2017. While much of this backlog can be attributed to aging "legacy" rail systems in the northeast, the Federal Transit Administration mandated that transit agencies nationwide develop transit asset management plans to get a better handle on the condition of their buses, train cars, railroad tracks and bridges, signal systems, stations and other facilities.
Although most of Rio Metro's assets are young and in a state of good repair, Rio Metro is seizing upon this opportunity to develop a transit asset management plan that doesn't merely comply with the federal mandate. Over the next year-and-a-half, employees from across the organization will more thoroughly inventory and assess the condition of Rio Metro's assets, identify and prioritize projects that ensure bus routes and Rail Runner trains continue to operate safely and efficiently, and recommend new business practices and asset management strategies that will benefit both current and future riders. This behind-the-scenes effort is just one of many ways that Rio Metro keeps its services on the road and on the rails!
Transportation and Logistics Study Provides Noteworthy Findings

The Mid-Region Council of Governments participated in a study last year to identify barriers and opportunities in transportation and freight logistics and how our local infrastructure assets could translate into a coordinated economic development strategy. After 12 months and numerous meetings and interviews with public and private sector partners, consultants Cambridge Systematics delivered a report with key recommendations customized for our region. Among the key points of the study are suggestions on ways to increase our regional exports by focusing on industries where we have a niche, both within our workforce capacity and geographically. For example, increasing our technology exports by focusing on the needs of the automotive and aircraft industries; asserting our strategic advantage with food processing and distribution; and fostering increased use of plastics. Of course, the study suggests that at the same time, we should focus on investments at the Sunport, to increase air cargo exports, and along the rail line, to facilitate increased rail freight and value-added manufacturing. 

A year later, with the study under its belt, the region has begun to see a shift in attitudes, market trends, and policies, beginning with the Foreign Trade Zone. The FTZ, which was originally a parcel adjacent to the Sunport, now includes all of Bernalillo and Valencia Counties, as well as the Cities of Moriarty, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe, and the Town of Bernalillo. Following the FTZ expansion, Bernalillo County invested funds for the first time in Valencia County, providing $400,000 for rail infrastructure that will foster development of a Rail Park along NM 6, just west of the Facebook site in Los Lunas. That regional investment has created a buzz of new interest from companies now looking at Central New Mexico. The region appears to be "on the map" for plastics companies wanting to be close to oil fields and petroleum production but also close to warehousing, manufacturing facilities, and west coast markets.

Learn more about the study and see all the recommendations here or contact Ann Simon at asimon@mrcog-nm.gov

Celebrating 11 Years of Service
The New Mexico Rail Runner Express is celebrating 11 years of service this July. As a thank you to our passengers, we will have goodies and giveaways at two of our stations on Thursday, July 13. Visit us at the Belen Station from 5:30-6:45 a.m. and at the South Capitol Station from 6:30-8 a.m. We hope to see you there!

Meet Trax at the Library this Summer

During the month of July, Trax, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express mascot, will be making appearances at libraries across Albuquerque as part of the Public Library ABQ-BERNCO's Summer Reading Program. Each presentation will include fun rail safety activities, train stories, and a meet-and-greet with Trax.
View Trax's Schedule
Upcoming Roundtable on Integrating Health & Planning in New Mexico

July Calendar

TCC Meeting
Friday, July 7th, 1:30pm
MRCOG Board Room
Metropolitan Transportation Board Meeting
Friday, July 21st, 10am
MRCOG Board Room
Rio Metro Board Meeting Friday, July 21st, 12pm MRCOG Board Room
Mid-Region Metropolitan Planning Organization | 505.247.1750 |  www.mrcog-nm.gov