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Railway project to connect Baton Rouge and New Orleans picking up steam

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BATON ROUGE - Canadian Pacific is still in the process of merging with Kansas City Southern Railroad Company to develop a freight and passenger rail system connecting Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The proposed multi-million dollar project is said to be stationed in the heart of Midcity next to businesses like City Roots Coffee Shop and Red Stick Social.

"We're willing to open up the capacity without the normal capacity studies, with one round trip per day," said James Clements with Canadian Pacific Railway. "We've not operated the Baton Rouge New Orleans line. We have certainly looked at these infrastructures and we have an understanding of it."

The plan is to develop models demonstrating a strong, fast, and high-capacity railroad system. First, they focus on the hassle of poor infrastructure throughout the city. It's a task that won't be cheap.

"So with that perspective, Amtrack and other agencies would need to fund some improvements," Clements said.

Dominick Blanda, operations manager at City Roots Coffee Bar says the potential railroad would be perfect for the Midcity and Downtown areas.

"Yes, this would be great," Blanda said. "You can bring people from all over the world. This will bring more traffic and help business around here. We are excited."

As of now, it could take years before any progress is made. A final vote of approval and shareholder payout is still to be finalized this coming week between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern. Once those negotiations are final, developers will begin a plan detailing the type of materials they will need to begin the project. They hope it can bring a boom in economic development and transportation.

"A good railroad, from the perspective of serving the customers that exist on it, it's not a very fast railroad," Clements said. "It's a very high-capacity railroad in that region. And we do believe that to put the right product in the corridor, there are some upgrades needed for speed for that first train pair."

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