CIty gets $1.3 million from state for railroad spur project

By William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Gov. Bill Richardson’s 2006 capital outlay has committed $1.3 million to Quay County for the purpose of paying for a future railroad spur in Tucumcari.

The spur would be a section of Union-Pacific railroad track that would run from existing tracks to a future industrial park, said Pete Kampfert, Tucumcari’s ecomomic development director.

. “The rail spur would be used to transport materials by rail to and from the Tucumcari Industrial Park,” said Kampfert, who said the industrial park would be built on about 22 acres at the intersection of Maple and 11th streets on the north side of town

The construction of the rail spur is not a done deal. Kampfert said he is seeking grant money in excess of $3 million from the federal government which would be added to the state money.

“The state money is committed to us, but in order to use it we need the additional funding from the federal government to get the rail spur built,” Kampfert said. “Once the rail spur is built we could then bring targeted industries to the city.”

Marcia Catron, a spokesperson for Gov. Bill Richardson, said the governor heard from Tucumcari residents about their desire for a rail spur.

“He (Richardson) was convinced the need was genuine and he wanted to help.”

Kampfert said many types of companies could use the rail spur and industrial park.

“An example would be a modular home builder.” he said. “The company could offload their units here.”

Kate Krause and Janie Chermack, associate professors of economics at the University of New Mexico, said building a rail spur makes sense but also entails risk.

“Anytime you think about economic growth, there is always a first step,” Chermack said. “There is risk involved without firm committments from companies to use the industrial park, but on the other hand it’s hard to attract those companies without a rail spur in place.”
Krause said companies have been known to move into an industrial park and then leave abruptly.

“Sometimes a company will realize it’s not going to be profitable and they will pull up and leave. I would want to know what kind of tax incentives would be offered to companies,” Krause said. “I think a rail spur and industrial park in Tucumcari should be really attractive to companies. You’ve got a great location there right off I-40.”

Kampfert said that since the project is a business deal, the results and details will be uncertain until the deal goes through. He said it may take six months or more before he will know if the federal money will be committed, a year until all the money is commited and about three years until the entire project is complete.

Union Pacific officials indicated they would be happy to build the railroad spur, said State representative Brian Moore, who said he made calls to the the governor’s budget officials to support the project.

Kampfert also said Union Pacific officials have said the railroad spur would be built if the city provides the money. He said completion of the industrial park could take up to three years.
Union Pacific officials could not be reached for comment.