Locals on board for Amtrak return to Gulf Coast; unclear if Governor Ivey is

Mobile County

A Thursday deadline is looming for a Mobile stop to be included in a plan for Amtrak passenger service along the Gulf Coast.

The Southern Rail Commission has been working for several years to create daily passenger rail service between New Orleans and Mobile. The long-term plan includes extending service to Orlando.

In 2016 Amtrak held a test run of the service between New Orleans and Mobile. Dozens of locals turned out and were excited about the idea. Locals still seem to be on board with the idea.

“This is a big tourist area here and people like to travel up and down the coast. I’d love to do it,” said Letchas Caster.

“I would like it to come back. We could go from here to LA and to Orlando, Jacksonville, anywhere,” said Brad Deaton.

The project would be funded largely in part by a federal grant. As part of that grant, individual states need to match a certain amount funding. Louisiana and Mississippi’s governors have already said they will provide the money. Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has not said she will pledge the $5.35 million for Alabama’s portion. Southern Rail Commission officials say the Governor refuses to meet with them to discuss the project. There is a Thursday deadline for Ivey to pledge the funding.

If Alabama does not provide the money, there will not be a stop in Mobile and the Amtrak passenger service would end in Pascagoula, Mississippi.

“I think she should (pledge the funding) because the money spent on getting the service here would get paid back eventually,” said Caster.

News 5 has reached out to the Governor’s office for comment. Governor Ivey’s Communications Director Joshua Pendergrass sent us the following statement.

“Transportation infrastructure has been and continues to be a priority of the Ivey Administration. In May, Governor Ivey sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in support of the Southern Rail Commission’s efforts to restore passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast. Alabama has not made a financial commitment to the project.”

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