BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — The Baton Rouge to New Orleans rail receives $20 million in funding as the project progresses, according to state and local leaders.
Congressman Garret Graves said funding includes real estate acquisition, design, and construction of train stations in Baton Rouge and Gonzales. In a statement, Graves hits at the lack of funding Louisiana has received compared to other states investing in infrastructure:
“For the past two years, we’ve watched the U.S. Department of Transportation give away billions of dollars in grants to flawed transportation and infrastructure priorities. As a result, Louisiana has largely been left off the awards list in place of excessive funding going to California and other states. While this federal funding for the Capital Region is good news to help relieve pressure on I-10, there are high-priority projects we must get built. A new bridge crossing the Mississippi River and upgrades to Highway 30 and LA-1 needed to get built yesterday. We will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund priority projects — not the Administration’s pet political projects.”
Senator Bill Cassidy also shared his sentiments on the lack of money coming to the state for infrastructure.
“Our transportation infrastructure has suffered from neglect and lack of funding for decades,” said Cassidy. “Louisiana is seeing the benefits of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
A bill was signed into law this year that would require DOTD to kickstart the necessary studies for the Baton Rouge to New Orleans rail and along I-20. Together, Governor John Bel Edwards and DOTD inspected the 80-mile rail line in April.
The governor highly anticipates the project, specifically how Louisiana will reap the benefits economically.
“An Amtrak line connecting Louisiana’s capital to the largest metropolitan area in the state will have immense economic benefits for both cities and the parishes in between, allowing the state to compete with other major metropolitan areas,” said Gov. Edwards in April. “Not only will this service potentially reduce the number of vehicles on the roadways which will result in less traffic congestion, but it will also connect communities through employment opportunities and allow for more transportation options for festivals, sporting events, and concerts.”
Other planned stops for the rail include LaPlace, the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in Kenner, and the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal in downtown New Orleans, officials said.
“Connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans via passenger rail, with key stops in between, will connect communities and enhance economic opportunity for citizens of South Louisiana,” said EBR Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome.
Thirteen million dollars of the grant announced by Graves will go to constructing the train station in downtown Baton Rouge, according to Mayor Broome. The funds will be used to plant and build the rail platform with ADA accessibility. Additionally, city officials said the City-Parish will be matching funds of $3.25 million.
To view renderings of the downtown Baton Rouge train station, click here.