Ten years after Katrina, a wait continues for restoring Gulf Coast passenger rail

August 11, 2015

A study on the resurrection of passenger rail service from New Orleans to Orlando has support in Congress, but when it actually begins is anyone’s guess.

Federal legislation needs to be approved before a working group can convene to analyze the costs, preferred route, funding sources, etc., for a restored Gulf Coast passenger rail line. The seven-member group is also, as proposed, to include a representative from Alabama.

No opposition has surfaced preventing the group from forming, but the entire process has been delayed as Congress wrestles with an overall long-term transportation funding plan for the nation’s highways, transit systems and railways.

There are concerns that a long-term transportation plan, of which the working group is included, will be delayed throughout the 2016 presidential election cycle.

“The concern is whether there is a bill passed in the near future,” John Robert Smith, chairman of the board for Transportation for America – a non-profit alliance that pushes for grassroots support of progressive transportation policy in the U.S. “Continuing extensions doesn’t bring into play the working group. These issues … are a timely issue and you wouldn’t want to wait for two years after a presidential election to getting into answering (questions about restoring passenger rail on the Gulf Coast).”

He added, “It’s been 10 years already.”

Reporter John Sharp at AL.com has the full story by clicking here.

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