Mobile was all set to upgrade its Gulf Coast rail line with a hefty $178.8 million federal grant.
Now, it’s slowing down to a grinding halt.
Let’s face facts.
These upgrades could be too close for comfort to the upcoming Interstate 10 Mobile River Bridge project.
Sure, the Alabama State Port Authority shared a rosy picture about working with Amtrak for mutual success.
But now, there’s an air of hesitation in going full steam ahead.
Looks like folks will still be driving or flying over for sunny visits in the unforeseeable future.
Here’s the full story:
This grant is part of a larger $1.4 billion package by the Federal Railroad Administration for rail improvements.
So, why has Mobile’s train stop hit a red signal as it awaits CSX’s action?
Well, the city is also entangled in a lease agreement while juggling the costs to keep the train route on track for the next six years.
Adding to the drama, the City of Mobile and Amtrak are in a negotiation loop, trying to settle on the facility’s location.
And at the end of the day, our head honchos are still scratching their heads over the actual costs we taxpayers will shoulder.
So, once again, we’re at the mercy of the slow bureaucratic wheels.
For now, all we can do is hope that the plans chug along and look ahead to a zipping train between Mobile and New Orleans.
Here’s a quick recap of this whole Mobile Amtrak saga:
Amtrak and the Southern Railroad Commission reveal plans for a “Mardi Gras Express” train ride, with hopes of a 2022 opening.
The railway plan hits turbulence as CSX fears shipping delays, sparking a series of heated meetings.
Amtrak then takes to Twitch, live-streaming a mostly desolate railway to counter CSX’s concerns.
Amtrak, Alabama Port Authority, CSX, and Norfolk Southern Railroads finally reached a shaky agreement.
However, the Express’ launch date remains a mystery.
The Express gets a new potential start date: January 2024.
This was settled at the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
Now, that’s up in the air again.
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