NWLA leaders take first step to bring passenger trains back - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Northwest Louisiana leaders take first step to bring passenger trains back to region

Northwest Louisiana leaders took the first step Thursday to bring passenger train service back to North Louisiana for the first time since 1969. Northwest Louisiana leaders who make up the transportation committee of NLCOG (Northwest Louisiana Council of Governments) envision a future where residents can get on a high speed train in Shreveport and in just a couple of hours find yourself in Vicksburg, MS or Dallas, TX.

State Representative Roy Burrell has been pushing for a passenger rail service for years. "Passenger rail is significant in terms of connecting communities, in terms of economic development," said State Rep. Burrell. Before this happens, a feasibility study is required. That study looks to see whether the idea is even financially possible.

City leaders credit Burrell with securing the quarter of a million dollars to perform the study. The money will come from the Department of Transportation and Development, who has already set aside the money from a federal transportation fund. "It just opens up a whole new world of economic opportunities and that's what I'm looking for," said Burrell. 
After hearing from firms competing for the study, the NLCOG committee voted to go with HNTB Corp. out of Baton Rouge. HNTB is the same company that is wrapping up a feasibility study to build a passenger line to connect Baton Rouge with New Orleans. "We're just very pleased and proud to have the opportunity to do that, we're looking forward to doing the work," said HNTB Gulf Coast District Leader John Basilica. 
The company predicts it will take up to a year to finish the study, to see if the dream of bringing back passenger train service can be a reality for North Louisiana. 


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