In some ways, southeast Louisiana, with St. Charles Parish in the middle, has become one big metropolitan area. Just look at the figures.
According to an article by Skip Descant in the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, some 22,500 residents of Jefferson and Orleans Parishes work in Baton Rouge and more than 9,600 Baton Rouge residents make the trip to New Orleans for work related reasons.
That brings a lot of cars out on I-10 every day, as one who drives that route regularly can tell. And it has entailed the use of a lot of gasoline and tightened up a lot of nerves.
Europeans seem to have the answer to such situations. Use rapid rail as a main means of travel.
With it, you could board a train in downtown New Orleans or Baton Rouge, read a newspaper or magazine as you travel through the wetlands of St. Charles and be in the center of the capital city in 90 minutes, relaxed and ready to go to work.
That’s better than pulling out of your driveway and going to the nearest pump, filling up and then joining the other thousands of vehicles in the slow trek along crowded Interstate 10. It can be quicker and much less stressful.
That’s what the New Orleans City Council had in mind in voting to enter into a compact agreement with Baton Rouge to provide passenger rail transportation between the two cities. Officials are now waiting for the Baton Rouge Metro Council to do likewise.
This would be the start of a plan to connect the seven parishes between the two cities. And it could be the beginning of a whole new way of life for many who live in the most populated area of Louisiana.
Main opposition to such a plan stems from the fact that it would be expensive to operate and maintain such a rail system. But it’s not so expensive when one considers the cost born by the motoring public in the present congested highway system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
Former Gov. Edwin Edwards had that in mind when Interstate 10 was in the formative stages. An inner city rail system would later be established along that route, he said.
A great deal of thought has gone into the prospect of developing a rapid rail system from Union Station to New Orleans International Airport. That could be the start of this regional system which would then be extended through St. Charles to LaPlace and then on to Baton Rouge.
It’s a prospect well worth pursuing.