Let’s forget about the rail to Baton Rouge. This has been in the planning stages for almost as long as I can recollect and it has met every form of opposition going.
Sometimes we fail to see what is right before our very own eyes. We have been focused upon Baton Rouge and New Orleans and conducted studies ad nauseam with nothing more than a pile of maps and paper to debate over. Here’s a really novel idea: Why not invest in commuter rail where passenger service to New Orleans already exists, along a rail line that we know is already rated for passenger service and to areas we know people commute from?
Where are these areas? Slidell, Picayune, Hattiesburg, Hammond, McComb, Brookhaven. These are areas that are already served by Amtrak. A station could be built in LaPlace.
Slidell and Hammond to New Orleans is something that commuters will stomach at 50 mph average speed to avoid the headaches of the daily crossing of the twin spans and Bonnet Carre Spillway.
The New Orleans to Baton Rouge route should be a high-speed corridor to compete with the interstate. This is something we can think hard about after we demonstrate commuter benefits and demand elsewhere.
So, to you, Jefferson Parish, you want to be obstructionists to progress, fine. Goodbye and good luck. We’ll just go around you.