Proposed Baton Rouge to New Orleans passenger train delayed by city to gather more information
The much anticipated passenger rail service proposed to span between Baton Rouge and New Orleans could be facing another delay after the East Baton Rouge Metro Council deleted its discussion from the agenda during its Wednesday meeting.
Fred Raiford, city-parish transportation and drainage director, requested that the council postpone the issue to gather more information. The $20 million RAISE grant, which will be used to fund the train station has also been delayed to give the city and parish more time to consider, said Raiford.
"I’ve had a lot of communication from the Mayor’s Office about the concerns that we may have in reference to the rail agreement itself," he said. "I also have been able to find out through the last few weeks that the RAISE grant funding that we were looking at to help facilitate building the actual train station itself has been pushed back to give us more time in regards to evaluating issues."
In the last meeting where the agreement was discussed, council member Chuna Banks cited concerns that north Baton Rouge residents wouldn't have the same access to the railway that the south part of the city would receive.
"What you’re dealing with is a segregation of people in the south that will have a playground of transportation, however, further leaving out persons that live in the northern part of the parish,” she said at the Dec. 13 meeting.
On Wednesday, Raiford said Banks has structured a meeting with some of her District 2 constituents to ensure he has "the best information to make a decision" about the agreement.
Raiford said he wants to do his due diligence by taking all options into consideration, hoping to bring back the item in May.
"Part of the environmental process requires us to look at alternates," he said. "I would rather do that and see what we can do to address that in general and have some factual information we could have to be presented to the council."
In October 2023, former Governor John Bel Edwards signed the agreement of the New Orleans–Baton Rouge passenger rail service proposal, with expected completion by 2027. The economic benefit of this proposed rail line would be a one-time $1.1 billion investment and $25.6 million annually.