Louisiana proponents of Baton Rouge-New Orleans rail line have five-point plan for next governor to make service a reality in first term

November 5, 2015

John Spain kicked off this morning’s Smart Growth Summit panel discussion on the long-proposed passenger rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans with a simple question: “If the train were running today, how many of you would be riding it?”Website Insert New Passenger Train Service copy

The hand of nearly every single one of the roughly 70 people in attendance shot up.

“We’re going to have a good morning,” said a smiling Spain, executive vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation and vice chair of the Southern Rail Commission.

The reaction from the audience reflects the broad public support for the rail line, but the panel discussion that followed Spain’s opening remarks made clear it will take a lot more than a public consensus to make passenger rail service between Louisiana’s two largest metro areas a reality.

“The next step is really to have the new governor buy into this project,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, chair of the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority, who was joined on the panel by SRC Chair Greg White and Knox Ross, SRC secretary and treasurer.

To that end, the SRC recently compiled a five-step plan for the next governor to bring the rail line to fruition. Both Republican David Vitter and Democrat John Bel Edwards, who are in the Nov. 21 runoff election to be the next governor, have voiced support for the rail line in vague terms at a forum during the campaigns, though they have indicated the extent of their support will be determined by funding and other details.

Reporter Steve Sanoski has the full story in the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report by clicking here.


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