SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- A Minnesota congressman took a test ride on San Juan's not-yet-completed $2.1 billion commuter rail system, calling it smoother than the subway in Washington.
U.S. Rep. James L. Oberstar, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, toured the so-called Urban Train on Tuesday, the San Juan Star reported Wednesday.
"This should win awards," Oberstar said. "And the ride was smoother than the Metro in (Washington,) D.C."
Funding will come from $2.1 billion already approved by the U.S. government, officials said. Oberstar's committee is one of two House committees that authorize funding for federal infrastructure projects, the newspaper reported.
Oberstar's weeklong visit to Puerto Rico will also include meetings with local government officials to discuss other transportation projects which rely on federal funding, the San Juan Star reported.
The Urban Train is scheduled to begin operating in September. The U.S. Caribbean territory must speed work to avoid risking approval by the Congress and President George W. Bush of an additional $400 million for the next construction phase, which is to begin by 2005, officials say.
When the first phase is finished, trains will run between the central neighborhood of Santurce and the suburb of Bayamon. Costs for that phase already have ballooned from an initial estimate of $1.1 billion to $2.1 billion amid delays and lawsuits between contractors and the island's government.
The next phase is to extend tracks to the San Juan suburb of Carolina.
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