Coast cities continue to push for Amtrak service

Coast cities continue to push for Amtrak service
Rail service on the Gulf Coast has came to a halt after Mississippi and Alabama refused funding for the passenger train service. (Source: WLOX)

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One year after Amtrak made a big splash with a proposal to bring passenger service back to the coast, supporters are working to make the plan more attractive.

In 2016, a special Amtrak train made stops on the coast in an effort to get people excited about a proposal to bring passenger service back to our area for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The concept is to create service from Orlando to New Orleans.

Earlier this year, the federal railroad administration awarded grants to 11 communities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi for projects to enhance the plan. Four cities on the coast have received grants. Pascagoula received $652,000, Bay St. Louis $55,000, Gulfport $190,000 and Biloxi $252,000.

Here's how Biloxi will spend the money.

"What we're going to do is build a new platform that will be right outside our multi-model station," Biloxi City Spokesman Vincent Creel explained. "We have a platform, but it's down the street where the train station used to be. We're going to build a platform right here giving people access to the multi-model center."

Amtrak also thinks there are too many crossings in Biloxi. The city plans to begin the process of addressing that issue this week.

"The goal is to consolidate six crossings. What we're looking to do is have the city council to call for a public hearing to talk about which of these crossings need to be consolidated," Creel said.

That process will be brought up at Tuesday's city council meeting. Supporters of the proposal to restore passenger service say it will create jobs, boost tourism and reduce environmental and roadway impacts. Studies on the passenger route will continue over the next few years before a decision is made on the viability of the proposal.

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