Bay St. Louis gearing up for train service
BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Plans to bring Amtrak’s passenger service back to the coast could create business and tourism opportunities.
The proposed New Orleans to Mobile route would make stops in Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis. In the Bay, city leaders have big plans to capitalize on the possibilities.
With an Amtrak train making regular stops in the city, Bay. St. Louis has applied for $1.6 million in BP restoration money to fund improvements to the building and grounds.
“We’d like to see an amphitheater. In addition to that, we’d like to build a nice comfort station and other things, so we can enhance this area,” said Gary Knoblock.
Bay St. Louis survived the first round of project consideration but ran into a roadblock in phase two. The next step is to appeal to the legislature in 2020 in an effort to restart the process.
“We’re going full force. We’re putting a presentation together to give to our Senator, and he has said he’ll bring it to the full legislature and see if we can get that money and earmark it for Bay St. Louis,” explained Gene Hoffman.
Bay St. Louis wants to be ready to go with the possibility of the Amtrak route being a reality in as little as two years. The city has already secured some funding in the goal of modernizing the depot.
“We have $50,000 from the Rail Commission, $25,000 in matching money from Bay St. Louis and a $25,000 match from Hancock County,” said Knoblock. “They gave $100,000 to build a new awning and upgrade handicap facilities.”
With abandoned buildings in the area, Bay St. Louis leaders believe passenger service could be a catalyst for resurgence in the depot district.
“It’ll be very beneficial to us, for us. Again, it’ll be a great economic impact,” explained Jeffrey Reed.
The Southern Rail Commission will make $800,000 available to split between Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula for depot renovations.
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