BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Of the $2 trillion in President Biden’s infrastructure plan, $84 billion is dedicated to expanding passenger rail across the United States, some of which would be allocated to Amtrak’s passenger rail proposal connecting Baton Rouge to New Orleans.
The plan to connect Louisiana’s two largest cities has long been talked about but funding was always an issue. Now, if approved by Congress, Amtrak could start work on the project.
The project has been a goal John Spain with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation has worked toward for years.
“Everything we know says that people will ride it,” said Spain.
He and Amtrak have worked together planning what it would look like and which cities it would go through, ultimately creating a master plan.
Once completed, the rail line would run from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, starting in downtown Baton Rouge with stops in Baton Rouge’s medical district, Gonzales, Laplace, the Louis Armstrong Airport, Jefferson, and downtown New Orleans.
“A lot of the travel will be from the cities in between. So, if you live in Laplace, you might come to Baton Rouge on the train. If you’re in Gonzales, you might think about going to New Orleans, think about going to a Saints’ game. You get on the train [and] 45 minutes to an hour later, you’re sitting there and you’re a block-and-a-half from the Superdome,” Spain added.
The plan calls for two main train stations in Baton Rouge. One will be on North Boulevard near mid-city and downtown and one on Bluebonnet. Spain said the goal would be to expand access through the city, utilizing light rail to connect to neighborhoods.
“We believe there will be a light rail connection between LSU and downtown and the second phase of that would go up Government Street. So, at some point, if we decide to do this project and I think the city will, you’ll be able to get on a light rail,” Spain explained.
The trip from downtown Baton Rouge to downtown New Orleans would take roughly 90 minutes, according to Amtrak. The train would travel around 90 mph.
If approved, the first phase of the plan would be completed around 2035.
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