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Could a Proposed Railway Between New Orleans and Baton Rouge Really Work?

railway travel between New Orleans and Baton Rouge may be possible in the near future. The East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority released their preliminary design for a railway system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge at a meeting last Tuesday.

The Redevelopment Authority, in conjunction with Kansas City-based consulting firm HNTB, has been working with politicians and community activists for several months to conceptualize the proposed railway stations.

The meeting was called to gather feedback from citizens about the initial design of the railway and to make calculated adjustments for a master plan that will be released later this summer. Ideally, this rail system will be a lightning rod of economic progress, and many planners have noted the potential for commercial and residential development that stems from new rail stations.

Bryan Jones, a project manager with the HNTB firm, summarized this sentiment by speculating about positive externalities of the proposed rail system,

“The most successful projects of this type around the country are not transit centers in and of themselves but are part of a more attractive development that includes a lot of commercial and pedestrian activity.”

While the new railway system would make local travel considerably easier for Louisiana residents, projects of this nature are expensive endeavors, and planners are currently evaluating their financial situation. Previous estimates predict that the final cost of this railway could be upwards of $260 million, and leaders are currently discussing possible ways to lighten the financial burden of this project.

In addition to stations in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, the proposed railway system will also feature stops in Gonzalez, LaPlace, and Louis Armstrong International Airport.

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