Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lobato Trestle Op-Ed in ABQ Journal

Bill Hume, board member of the C&TS Railroad Management Company wrote an Op-Ed piece for the Albuquerque Journal regarding the Lobato Trestle rebuild project. In it, he covers the history of the actions taken since the fire in June.  Of note:

  • Rumors that the line was shut down caused the reservations to plummet. At least 11 businesses in Chama, NM, have closed, the stated cause being the downturn in traffic. Given the size of Chama, this is no small consequence
  • "Figures won't be final until the project components are actually let to bid, but the educated estimate is that the total repair project will cost $1.91 million."
  • Once unused track rehabilitation funds are committed, the funds available will be $0.9 million, leaving a $1.01 million projected shortfall. The funds should cover the cost of materials only.
  • Rail-mounted repair facilities that would have been used in the repair in the past (like a crane) no longer exist, which [I assume] is part of the reason for the high cost. 
  • If all objectives are met, the trestle should be ready by the opening weekend, May 28, 2011. 

The fire in June may cost $2M,
but the impact has seemed
much larger. C&TS photo
The small town economies of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado feel hiccups like a fire or a drop in reservations much stronger than the cosmopolitan and metropolitan cities. To put it in "northern Colorado" terms, the impact from the trestle fire is more akin to a mountain pine beetle problem than to a simple failure of a tourist attraction. Everyone in a hundred miles radius of the line feels the effect. 

The Friends site adds this to Hume's piece: 
As an update, the Friends Lobato Trestle Fund has in excess of $50,000 in donations. Over $30,000 has come in from general donors and $20,000 has been pledged by the Friends from their "Another Century of Narrow Gauge Steam II" campaign.
Can the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic find it's way over the Lobato gap? It's a challenge, but folks in the region seem up to the task. All they need is the money to see it accomplished, and they are half-way there. Let's hope the off-season doesn't slow the money down. Funds for the restoration can be sent to the Friends organization here.

1 comment:

customtrains.org said...

You can truly see the effect of a significant tourist railroad, such as the Cumbres & Toltec on the towns it serves, such as Chama. Yreaka Western and California Western here in Northern California are similarly strong tourist railroads.