SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - After 18 months of research, the Gulf Coast Working Group has submitted a report to Congress recommending passenger rail service return to the Gulf Coast.
The study recommends two routes that would pass through South Mississippi. One route would offer daily service between New Orleans and Orlando.
The other route would run daily service between New Orleans to Mobile, AL. This option would be funded by Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
A secondary option recommends a route with daily service between New Orleans and Orlando, but leaves out the state-funded route.
According to the report, capital improvement projects would be needed at 12 stations along the route to make the plan work. That includes recommended upgrades to train depots in Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis. The most expensive work is in Pascagoula, where it will take an estimated $1.6 million to build a new platform.
The report also recommends closing three railroads crossings in Harrison County.
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker calls the study encouraging, saying estimated restoration costs are reasonable and that the complete report brings us one step closer to the return of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast region.
"This encouraging study shows that passenger rail service could be restored along the Coast quickly and at a reasonable cost. Completion of this report is an important step in the process, and it brings us closer to delivering the numerous benefits of passenger rail to the entire Gulf Coast region," said Wicker.
The Gulf Coast Working Group study estimates it will cost around $117.6 million to get passenger rail services up and running through the area.