Louisiana Governor-Elect John Bel Edwards says he will do ‘everything’ to get passenger rail from New Orleans to Baton Rouge

December 21, 2015

By Julia O’Donoghue, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards wants to start working with federal officials to establish a passenger rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge — a project Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to support.

“I am going to do everything I can to partner with folks in Washington to make sure that as soon as possible we can pursue light rail,” said Edwards at a New Orleans Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting Friday (Dec. 18). Website Insert Keep Your Money In-State copy

The comment drew lots of applause from the business-oriented crowd. Industry leaders and local officials in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and several other local parishes have wanted to pursue passenger rail for years. But the federal government wouldn’t consider putting funding toward the project because of Jindal’s opposition to the idea.

Edwards — like many in the business community — believes the rail project would boost economic development in South Louisiana. Instead of having Baton Rouge and New Orleans compete for business entities, the two cities would be connected. Potential employers wouldn’t have to choose between one or the other, according to rail supporters.

“It actually allows us to be a super region. I believe that’s important for our future,” said the governor-elect.

Starting in 2009, Jindal refused to move forward with an application for $300 million in federal funding for high-speed rail from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The governor said he couldn’t support the project because no plan for the train’s operating expenses was in place.

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