Future BR committee on board with intrastate rail

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Right now we're hearing revived talks of a passenger rail line between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Several studies are underway to find out if it could work.

The Future Baton Rouge committee works to improve life for those who live and work in the Capital Region. But one part of their plan would reach beyond the East Baton Rouge Parish line and all the way to the Crescent City - a passenger railway connecting Baton Rouge to New Orleans.

"In looking at the Baton Rouge to New Orleans corridor, you begin to think about the two cities as a region as opposed to two separate destinations...much like you would Dallas-Fort Worth or Minneapolis-St. Paul," said John Price, City of Baton Rouge Assistant Chief Administrative Officer.

Price says the rail could relieve traffic congestion along I-10 caused by the 40,000 to 60,000 people who commute between the two cities each day and serve as an economic and tourism booster.

"The passenger rail system would travel from Baton Rouge, down to New Orleans. It would go through Ascension Parish with a train station in Gonzales, down to Laplace, down to the Kenner station and then from there to the airport and to the PT in downtown New Orleans," said Price.

"That would be a good idea for the area...connecting everything, and there's nothing like a nice train ride," said Troy Chaney, a Baton Rouge resident.

But while some Baton Rouge residents like the idea, they want to know where the money for it will come from. Price says the system would cost almost $500 million to build and around $18 million each year to maintain.

"If they can show a reason why a private company should invest in it, I have no problem with it," said Chaney. "But me personally, I don't want to pay extra tax dollars for it."

Future BR hasn't said yet how the project would be funded, only that feasibility studies are still being done.

So far Orleans, Jefferson, Ascension and East Baton Rouge Parishes have committees looking into the railway. The first meeting between the parish committees will take place in late May.

Copyright 2013 WAFB. All rights reserved.