WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) announced Amtrak has applied for $11.5 million in federal funding made available under his Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the I-20 Crescent long distance train service extension from Mississippi through Louisiana to Texas and grade crossing safety improvements in Louisiana.
“This investment from the infrastructure law will connect Louisiana’s I-20 corridor with Atlanta and Dallas,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It strengthens north Louisiana cities by better integration into interstate commerce.”
Last year, Cassidy discussed passenger rail in North Louisiana at a stakeholder meeting in the context of new funding opportunities in his Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has made it possible to have an AMTRAK route in North Louisiana connecting our cities with Atlanta and Dallas. This conference included Federal officials and state and local leaders from Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas,” said Dr. Cassidy. “It demonstrated to AMTRAK and to the Federal Railroad Commission that Louisiana is committed.”
In 2015, an Amtrak feasibility study was conducted showing that a long-distance passenger rail connection could operate profitably over existing railroad infrastructure along the I-20 corridor. Additionally, another study in 2017 said that less than $80 million is required as an initial investment between Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Both Canadian Pacific (CP) and Amtrak have announced plans to conduct a study that would help finalize a cooperative agreement to operate the passenger train for the I-20 corridor over track that had been owned by Kansas City Southern (KCS) prior to CP’s approved acquisition of KCS.
The IIJA has several funding sources from which stakeholders can apply, and the Louisiana Legislature has already appropriated $10 million for an extension of long-distance Amtrak service in north Louisiana. Additionally, the IIJA created a Corridor ID program under the Federal Railroad Administration to identify and develop new or improved intercity passenger rail services. Cassidy met with Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner and stakeholders in New Orleans on October 18 to discuss the project and has spoken with the Federal Railroad Administrator Amit Bose on several occasions in support of the I-20 passenger rail project.
Similarly, he previously met with elected officials and community leaders to discuss the possibility of passenger rail service being established between Atlanta and the Dallas/Fort Worth Region, going through North Louisiana in August 2022.