SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Citizens in Shreveport, Ruston, and Monroe are gearing up for a series of briefings scheduled for Wednesday, June 7 that will update the region on the concept of re-introducing the long-distance train to northern Louisiana.

Amtrak and partners have been contemplating the idea for more than 20 years, but the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2022 is giving NWLA the opportunity to believe in the potential expansion of Amtrak’s long-distance service.

If funded, and if a sufficient business plan can prove a direct connection between the Northeast Corridor and areas in the south and west will be beneficial to Amtrak, the company will partner with the Southern Rail Commission and others to fulfill the 20-year-old concept.

Both the SRC and Amtrak provided details about the application for federal funding. Amtrak is again reviewing the possibility of extending the Crescent train along the I-20 corridor from Meridian, Miss. to New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Dallas. Communities throughout central Mississippi, north Louisiana, and east Texas are expected to be included in the plans.

U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy announced on Tuesday Amtrak has applied for $11.5 million in federal funding which is available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to promote travel across Louisiana with the long-distance train service extension from Mississippi through Louisiana.

At Government Plaza, Wednesday afternoon Mayor Tom Arceneuax announced the partnership with Amtrack and three other mayors who have joined forces in submitting a grant application to move forward with the long-distance trail service.

Mayor Arcenaux along with Mayor George Flaggs Jr. of Mississippi, Mayor Friday Ellis of Monroe, and Mayor Ronny Walker of Ruston are working to bring this project to life. The hope to receive a response to the application sometime in the Fall.

“With the bipartisan infrastructure funding the support of our congressional delegation led by our friend senator Bill Cassidy, the leadership of Amtrak, and I think most significantly, the friendly cooperation CPKC railway has made a huge difference,” said the Commissioner of Mississippi for the Southern Rail Commission, Knox Ross.

Ross says thanks to these key factors the flame for this project remained alive. Ross believes this is the best opportunity in decades

A study by the Rail Passengers Association found that Louisiana alone could see a 70 million dollar economic impact annually with the support of about 81 new jobs when the train is finally brought to fruition.

The Federal State Partnership inner city passenger rail grant application was submitted for over 14 million dollars for the I-20 Cresent extension.

This funding would allow all partners involved to take the first step forward in planning. The costs look to cover project development costs such as, service and operation planning identification of railroad improvements, preliminary engineering, and environmental clearance.

The last briefing will take place at 3rd and Desiard Street in Monroe on Thursday, set to begin at 9:00 a.m.