Survey shows voter approval of rail service between BR and New Orleans
BATON ROUGE - The proposed passenger rail service has gained major support from the southern region of the state with the majority approving the project. The proposal aims to transform transportation between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, as well as alleviate traffic congestion.
Over 1,000 registered voters in several parishes including Ascension, East Baton Rouge, and Orleans Parishes participated in a survey supported by the Southern Rail Commission and other agencies.
In the poll, 63-percent said they would use the train. Another 80-percent believe it would reduce traffic on I-10.
"The poll data showed that the respondents who live along the proposed rail line strongly believe it will alleviate traffic on I-10," said Jennifer Johnson, President of LJR Customs.
John Spain, Chairman of the Southern Rail Commission, agrees with the findings.
"If you ever think there are 210,000 riders on a train that may have been in a car, you are going to take that many automobiles off of I-10, greatly reducing it," Spain said.
The data also revealed most people view the train as another alternative for evacuations.
"A hurricane, a disaster, it's the quickest way to bring people out in large numbers," Spain said.
The route would include seven stops. The main ones being Baton Rouge, Gonzales, Kenner, and ending at the Superdome.
The capital cost for the project is estimated at $262 million. To fund the project, it may take several agencies to pay out the bill.
"Funding should be a state, local, and federal match. There are federal dollars that will start this train but they need a local match dollar for dollar so we do need to identify local taxes, local funding, and state funding to match the federal dollars that are available," Spain explained.
The survey showed 80-percent believe it will bring economic development that can reshape Mid-city and Downtown.
The Southern Rail Commission says they hope to have the passenger rail service up and running in five years, but as of now funding remains a major obstacle.