New Orleans’ Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer elected first Chairperson
Enacted by legislation passed in the 2010 legislative session, the Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact met for the first time on October 2, 2013 to elect leadership and receive an update on a rail feasibility study underway for the New Orleans to Baton Rouge corridor. Officers to the Rail Compact were named: Chairperson – New Orleans City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, Vice-Chair – Cornelius Lewis, Baton Rouge appointee and Secretary/Treasurer – Ryland Percy, Ascension Parish appointee.
“This historic convening of leaders across the super-region signals this project is moving forward. This Compact is dedicated to realizing the immense economic vitality that passenger rail can spark in our region. Our two great cities are already the economic engine for our state, but with more regional connectivity, we can emerge as an epicenter for growth nationwide,” said Kristin Gisleson Palmer, New Orleans District “C” City Councilmember.
Act #858, passed in the 2010 Legislative session, authorized the creation of a Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact with the goals of developing and improving an efficient, safe and well-maintained system of rail and other transit ways. Vice-Chair Cornelius Lewis stated, “With the growing number of jobs in the super-region, the Rail Compact represents a unique partnership with leaders from multiple municipalities joined together toward a common regional project that will provide an efficient and safe means of travel between our growing metros.”
The CONNECT Coalition has been conducting research and outreach along the corridor to facilitate the formation of the Compact.
The Compact is currently comprised of representatives from municipalities Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Jefferson and Ascension parishes coming together as the initial members. It is anticipated that other parishes along the corridor can join in appointing members at a later date.
The efforts of the Rail Compact will complement previous efforts of the Southern Rail Commission, which was formed by representatives from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi to engage public and private organizations with rail interests and support rail initiatives across the Southeast US.
Rep. Walt Leger III is also an appointee to the Rail Compact and served as former chair of the Southern Rail Commission and State Representative from District 91. He said, “We have to make smart infrastructure investments to ensure future prosperity for our state and our region. By promoting and encouraging safe, reliable, efficient movement of people and goods between our cities, we can measurably grow the economies along the rail corridors and become a leader in connectivity and intrastate synergy.”
To learn more about the Rail Compact and CONNECT, click here.