Vicksburg Post

City backs Louisiana rail plan that could bring passenger service to Vicksburg

By John Surratt

The city of Vicksburg is throwing its support behind the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s effort to secure federal funding for Louisiana’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program that envisions potential Amtrak passenger rail service for Vicksburg.

The program is part of the Louisiana 2020 Rail Plan developed by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to guide the state’s freight and passenger rail service planning and project development for the next 20 years. The plan was prepared to meet requirements under the federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 to qualify for future funding for rail projects.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday approved a resolution supporting the program, which includes a North Louisiana Passenger Rail Plan calling for passenger rail service from Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, to Meridian with stops in Shreveport, La., Monroe, Vicksburg and Jackson.

According to the Louisiana 2020 plan, Amtrak explored the possibility of service from Meridian to Dallas/Fort Worth in the 1990s. The proposal involved splitting the Crescent, which presently runs from New Orleans to New York with stops in Meridian, Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta to establish an east-west route to Dallas/Fort Worth.

“There’s a section that’s not connected going east and west on Amtrak, and it happens to be between Meridian and Dallas/Fort Worth,” said Ward 2 Alderman Alex Monsour, who recently attended a meeting on the plan in Monroe. “If this goes through — we really don’t have any opposition in Washington, D.C.; in fact, while we were there (in Monroe) Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Sen. (Roger) Wicker and all of the Louisiana Delegation were all on board with this.”

Monsour said the plan would be good for Vicksburg, pointing out that it would allow people to commute by rail from Louisiana to Vicksburg for work and allow people to attend sports events like Dallas Cowboys football or Atlanta Braves baseball games.

“It’s going to connect people from Atlanta, Ga., to Dallas, Texas, and beyond. We’ve just been a little section (that) couldn’t get Amtrak and they said they were going to do this,” he said, adding having service to Vicksburg will bring more visitors to the city. “It will help us tremendously.