Gonzales, LA – City of Gonzales Mayor Barney Arceneaux hosted a press conference on Wednesday, September 16, at the site of a newly proposed Gonzales rail depot that would be part of the Louisiana Super Region Rail Authority’s plan for a commuter rail line to service passengers from Baton Rouge to New Orleans. He, along with Rail Authority Chairwoman Kristin Gisleson-Palmer, spoke highly of the proposal.
“Industries in our region have planned more than $20 billion in development and expansion projects over the next several years. This will place huge demands on our transportation system,” said Kristin Gisleson-Palmer, chairwoman of the Rail Authority. “Passenger rail service will connect employers to a wider labor pool and give residents better access to jobs and affordable housing. It will also play a critical role in public safety during hurricanes and other disasters.”
“The opportunities this rail depot will afford us in terms of economic development, leisure travel and an influx of new workers commuting to this area has us all very excited,” said Arceneaux. “Our downtown area was once thriving, and with plans to make it come alive once again, this depot’s addition is a welcome one. We are finally seeing the Gonzales we know is out there waiting to be reborn; one that offers ease of transportation, progressive infrastructure, more amenities and a better quality of life for all residents. I am thrilled to be standing here today on what is the dawning of a new era as the City of Gonzales becomes a part of the bridging of the great cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans.”
The plan cites billions of dollars in planned industrial development in seven parishes – East Baton Rouge, Ascension, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles, St. James, Jefferson and Orleans.
Leaders from each of the seven parishes were on-hand to speak in favor of this project in the hopes of the next Louisiana Governor to make the project a priority. The parish leaders included East Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden, Ascension Parish President Tommy Martinez, Buddy Boé, representing St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre Jr., Mark Drewes, representing Jefferson Parish President John Young, St. John Parish President Natalie Robottom, St. James Parish President Timmy Roussel and State Rep. Walt Leger, representing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.
Also taking part was Knox Ross, chairman of the Southern Rail Commission, a multi-state agency that advocates for passenger rail throughout the South, who stated that this proposed plan could only be the beginning of something on a much larger scale.
“It would be wonderful to see this rail line extend into the Gulf Coast of Mississippi eventually,” said Ross. “Imagine the possibilities.”
The Southern Rail Commission is in the final stages of compiling a gubernatorial briefing book. The document outlines critical next steps for the proposed passenger line, including details for funding. It will be presented to candidates in this fall’s gubernatorial race and to the public later this month.
Interested parties can view the briefing book when it is made available by visiting www.lsrra.org. City of Gonzales residents can view the proposed rail depot, along with numerous other plans for city improvements over the next 20 years by visiting www.gonzalesla.com, and clicking on the link entitled Master Growth Plan.