Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gulfport & Pascagoula Awarded Southern Rail Commission Funding to Help Prepare for Passenger Rail Service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four Mississippi Gulf Coast cities will receive $1.15 million to help prepare for passenger rail service, U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced.

The Southern Rail Commission (SRC) is awarding Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) funding to Bay St. Louis, Biloxi, Gulfport and Pascagoula. The funding is intended to be used for station-area planning and construction to prepare for possible restoration of passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast.

“Interest in reestablishing passenger rail service has grown steadily over the years. Restoring this service would be an asset to the overall transportation options available on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for economic and tourism interests,” said Cochran, Senate Appropriations Committee chairman.

“This funding represents a strategic down payment aimed at restoring passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast,” Wicker said. “Our local communities need to be ready for the influx of people who will be traveling up and down the rail line. A lot of hard work lies ahead, but this is a milestone in reaching that goal.”

The Mississippi Senators worked with the SRC to deliver previously-appropriated federal funding to cities in Mississippi. Seven other FRA-funded awards are being made to communities in Alabama and Louisiana for similar passenger rail service projects.

“Our congressional delegation has led the cause of restoring rail to Gulf Coast at the federal level, leveraging the strong local demand that has been building since 2005,” SRC Chairman Greg White said. “We are especially grateful to Senators Cochran and Wicker of Mississippi, in particular, who played a critical role in accelerating the availability of these Federal Railroad Administration funds, building on the growing momentum to keep this large-scale project moving forward.”

“Passenger rail service has been out of commission in many of these communities since Hurricane Katrina destroyed rail infrastructure across the Gulf Coast in 2005,” says SRC Secretary-Treasurer and Pelahatchie Mayor Knox Ross. “These awards demonstrate the strong commitment by both Senators Cochran and Wicker and our Mississippi cities to seeing Amtrak return to the Gulf Coast. The SRC is pleased to partner with these cities to bring back Amtrak to the Gulf Coast.”

The SRC funding, which will be available in 2017, will be used over the next 24 months on the following projects:
• City of Pascagoula – $659,543 for improvements to restore the city’s historic train station. Total project budget: $1,300,744
• City of Biloxi – $252,000 for construction of passenger rail platform and transit station access. Total project budget: $497,000
• City of Gulfport – $190,000 for construction of new platform canopy, sidewalk and disability access improvements. Total project budget: $370,277
• City of Bay St. Louis – $55,000 for canopy, trackside and disability access improvements. Total project budget: $100,000

These projects, as well as those in Alabama and Louisiana, are intended to strengthen the effort to restore passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast. In all, the SRC is awarding $2.47 million to the three states.

In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which established a working group focused on reaching an agreement regarding capital construction and schedule requirements to restore passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast.