New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal Redevelopment Effort Receives FRA Grant

NEW ORLEANS — The future role of the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT) in meeting the city’s transportation needs where passengers could potentially transfer between transit, commuter rail and intercity rail and bus operations will be examined using a nearly $1 million federal grant, Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman announced.

“Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of New Orleans in many ways, including a direct impact on the area’s transportation infrastructure,” Boardman said, noting that previously established population and transportation patterns in the region have been significantly altered.

The $994,000 federal grant funding to the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission will support their efforts to: identify all owners of NOUPT property, including land and air rights; review current transportation uses of the facility; and determine financial and development goals for future project feasibility studies. This planning phase is expected to take until the end of 2008.

A number of current passenger rail development initiatives might benefit from the planning provided by this grant. For example, the NOUPT is presently part of several larger regional plans under consideration to develop high-speed rail service linking New Orleans to Houston, Atlanta and Mobile. In addition, state and local leaders have discussed using the terminal as part of a potential Baton Rouge to New Orleans commuter rail service. The facility also serves as a key element in the region’s emergency plans to evacuate residents from the city.

“The restoration of New Orleans will not happen over night, but identifying the city’s transportation needs is essential,” Boardman said. “This grant is one of the many ways the federal government is working with local and state officials to rebuild the city,” he added.

The NOUPT has served as a vital link in the area’s transportation network since its construction in 1954.

— Special to News Wire