Vicksburg joins Louisiana cities seeking money for rail service

Published 2:09 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen took another step toward rail service for the city on Friday.

Friday morning, the board approved a resolution to apply for federal funding through the Federal Railroad Administration for a Federal-State Intercity Passenger Rail Program grant and authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign an agreement with three Louisiana cities in a joint effort to get the rail program money.

Vicksburg is partnering with the Louisiana cities of Monroe, Shreveport and Ruston to bring the rail service from the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area along the Interstate corridor to Meridian.

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The cities have contracted with Baton Rouge, La.-based consultant CSRS to prepare the grant application.

“The United States, from east coast to west coast, has Amtrak in several locations, but there is a short section that’s always been from Dallas-Fort Worth to Atlanta, Ga., where you cannot get passenger rail,” Ward 2 Alderman Alex Monsour said. “That is what we’re working with now and I think it would be significant for the city of Vicksburg and the state of Mississippi and the country.

“It is going to be a way for people to come to Vicksburg and actually be in Vicksburg and visit,” he added.

Monsour said the rail infrastructure is available because the city already has a freight rail service.

“This is going to allow us to reach the rest of the country,” he said.

The move to seek funding is influenced by 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 board in November approved a resolution supporting the program, which includes a North Louisiana Passenger Rail Plan calling for passenger rail service from Dallas-Fort Worth to Meridian with stops in Shreveport, Monroe, Vicksburg and Jackson. There is already a passenger service from Meridian to Atlanta.

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.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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