BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Each day thousands of people commute between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Governor John Bel Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development took their first trip on the tracks and tested them out in hopes of eventually developing a passenger train system connecting the two largest cities in Louisiana.
“Secretary Wilson and I are excited about this opportunity. We’re excited about getting on this train, doing this inspection, and then making this passenger rail service happen,” said Gov. Edwards.
The plans have been long-standing but are now chugging along.
“You all know that for years this passenger rail link has been something that people across Louisiana have been talking about. The desire has always been there. We just didn’t have the means,” explained Gov. Edwards.
Now the state has the means because of federal dollars pouring out from Washington D.C.
“Well, the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act does provide those means now,” said Gov. Edwards.
The project began to move forward in December after state leaders announced the merging of two major rail lines that were supposed to take place at the end of 2022.
“The impending merger between Kansas City Southern Railroad and Canadian Pacific Railroad provides new opportunities and renewed support to introduce this passenger rail,” stated Gov. Edwards.
DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson said their plans are right on track to help Baton Rouge and New Orleans become connected in more than one way.
“This will be an opportunity for us to really finally get cars off the road, reducing congestion and helping us with our climate responsibility efforts,” said Wilson.
“It will allow Baton Rouge and New Orleans to compete together against other regions of the country and not be in competition with one another… But especially the ease of congestion along I-10 in advance of when we’re going to have construction going on here between the bridge and the split,” added Gov. Edwards.
Local leaders said with the success of this railway, more tracks in northern Louisiana and growth opportunities could follow.
“As the service grows, so will the need for additional opportunities and additional stops and improvements that will be added because of the demand and opportunity that this rail service can equally provide,” said Wilson.
State officials said there’s still a long way to go and there’s no timeline yet, but they’re hoping to get the train up and running as soon as possible.