Moving forward with the proposed Baton Rouge-New Orleans passenger rail service, the Southern Rail Commission will hire a project manager in the coming weeks, says Baton Rouge Area Foundation executive vice president John Spain.
Spain, who also chairs the commission, says the part-time consultant would identify local funding sources for the project as well as determine necessary infrastructure improvements—such as replacing the Bonnet Carre Spillway Bridge—before moving forward with its implementation, among other tasks.
“There’s a laundry list,” he says. “Having someone who wakes up each day, making sure all those things are getting done, is an important first step.”
While the commission hasn’t picked anyone yet, Spain says they’re looking for someone with inter-city rail experience and a positive working relationship with the railroads. At this point, he’s unsure of how much that person would be paid.
New federal dollars have recently become available to help cover the rail service’s “infrastructure and operating costs,” Spain notes, giving the project new life and a better chance of being completed in the next several years.
“There are in fact more funds available now for the inter-city rail than ever before.”