Railroad Master Plan to connect Gonzales to Baton Rouge and New Orleans

Darian Graivshark
Example of curb extensions, street light additions, and improved parking.

Commuters and visitors of the Baton Rouge area can attest to the fact that I-10 is becoming an increasingly congested area as it continues to grow.

With this problem, people have turned more towards buses or bikes as their means of transportation. Bikes, however, may not be the safest way to travel since there are not many bike lane options in the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, like Gonzales.

Gonzales has been working closely with WDG Architect, Freese & Nichols, and ARUP to begin the incorporation of the railway system into the city of Gonzales. WDG Architect is part of the stations building design. Freese & Nichols and ARUP are consulting firms that provide engineering and planning services. The Passenger Rail Station they are helping to work on plans to become a way to transport passengers via railway.

Connecting from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, the railway will have about seven stops along the way. One stop will include Gonzales.

Ryan Burns, Senior Rail System Engineer of ARUP, said, "The tracks will follow the I-10 corridor, with two daily trips, and is expected to move at 80 mph to begin with. As upgrades occur, we anticipate the train to travel up to 110 mph with an increase in daily round trips to eight times a day."

The railway is projected to transport roughly 10,000 during the first year. One of the main purposes of the rail station is to help with commuting and create an increase in job potential.

"The platform waiting area will allow for seating of up to 35 people. It is estimated that tickets will cost about ten dollars per trip," Burns said.

Aside from commuters taking the train for jobs, the train will help attract people to Gonzales for events like the Hot Air Balloon Festival, or just to tour an ever-growing and improving city.

As we welcome the rail station, downtown Gonzales will begin to see new features in the city.

"There will be curb extensions that will provide more safety for pedestrians and control traffic speeds more. New street lights will be added, as well as bike lanes and ADA approved paved crosswalks. This will help create a civic hub atmosphere," Burns said.

Improvements will provide connectivity of the city and create character, walkability, and value for many of the residents.

Potential for new residential, retail, and commercial spaces that will surround the station will create more community buildings and business opportunities.

"With or without the station, the other improvements alone will still create value for the community. The station just completes it," Burns said.

John Spain, chairman of the Southern Rail Commission and Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, said, "Another great thing about this railway is that it could offer additional means of transportation in the event of evacuations for something like a hurricane."

Burns said, "Gonzales is ready for this, and this will help the city go a long way. We hope the station becomes a sort of landmark for the city."

The ARUP company that is a part of this development has also done projects like the California High Speed Railway, the D.C. Union Station Pedestrian Modeling, and the Texas Central High Speed Railway, to name a few.

Typically, they work with cities that are looking to improve, grow, or develop more and help turn them into bustling areas.

The plan is still underway and being worked on, but the city is proud to announce the Passenger Rail Station Master Plan.

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