The New Orleans metro area has six Class I railroads operating in North America, including the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe (BNSF), Canadian National (CN), CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern (KCS), Norfolk Southern (NS), and Union Pacific (UP). Combined, these six Class I railroads offer connections to 132,000 miles of track across the United States and Canada. Each railroad also operates a intermodal freight terminal within the region. The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, a publicly owned asset of the City of New Orleans, serves as a terminal switching and consolidation entity on 27 miles of track along the Mississippi River crescent. The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad represents the interests of rail on the RPC’s Transportation Policy Board.
Due to the presence of the Huey P. Long rail bridge crossing of the Mississippi River and the large scale of rail operations in the metro area, a significant amount of rail congestion exists across the New Orleans Rail Gateway. The RPC works with the rail community to both study and invest in rail and roadway infrastructure to improve the safety of railway crossings, enhance the ability of the transportation system to facilitate the movement of goods and lessen impacts to other modes of transportation.
The Southern High-Speed Rail Commission has completed an economic impact analysis as part of a feasibility study for a proposed passenger rail service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This analysis indicates that a viable intercity passenger rail service can generally be expected to deliver benefits in excess of costs. It lays out critical station stop planning issues and identifies institutional impediments. Also indentified are capital improvement projects and operation costs needed to provide 79 mph or higher service. For more information about the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission, visit their website: www.southernhsr.org
The Regional Planning Commission for Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and St. Tammany Parishes wishes to thank the SHSRC for their investigation of regional transportation alternatives for the Baton Rouge to New Orleans corridor.
One of the most critical links in New Orleans vast network of rail infrastructure is the New Orleans Rail Gateway, which stretches from Avondale via the Huey P. Long Bridge through the City of New Orleans. It is the fourth largest rail gateway in the country and a key link in the national transportation system for the east/west movement of freight rail traffic. To more acutely understand the current and future infrastructure needs of freight and passenger rail traffic through the New Orleans Rail Gateway, RPC commissioned The New Orleans Rail Gateway Infrastructure and Feasibility Analysis (2007) in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The report documents existing and anticipated future conditions and proposes associated improvements to reduce rail congestion, enhance community emergency access and evacuation capacity, and improve crossing safety.
This study evaluates the provision of more direct rail and roadway access for associated freight traffic between a potential Millennium Port site on the lower Mississippi River in Plaquemines parish that connects to the Huey P. Long Bridge via the Harvey Canal and new linkages across the Intracoastal Waterway. An incremental implementation plan and associated costs are identified.