Rail infrastructure improvements to boost La. economy

John Dupont
Governor John Bel Edwards

A $20 million rail project funded by the state will improve the transfer of major agricultural commodities to export vessels at the Port of Greater Baton Rouge in West Baton Rouge Parish.

The rail project is part of a $60 million rail infrastructure Gov. John Bel Edwards and officials from Louis Dreyfus Company unveiled in a ceremony May 30.

The project will expand commodity shipments for current and future tenants. It follows Union Pacific Railroad's $12 million interchange track project, which will expand potential delivery from 45 railcars to as many as 110 railcars on one train.

"We are pleased to commit additional state funds to facilitate shipment of critical commodities from Louisiana farmers and other sources through the Port of Greater Baton Rouge," Gov. Edwards said during the ceremony. "These rail enhancements mean better business and more profitable operations for our farmers, for the port and for major tenants like LDC."

The project will boost the economy for the Capital Region and the state, he said.

Measured by tonnage, the Port of Greater Baton Rouge is among three Louisiana ports among the Top 10 in the United States.

"Our investments in port and maritime infrastructure assures Louisiana of retaining and even expanding our leadership in international commerce," Gov. Edwards said.

It will also help keep West Baton Rouge at the forefront for the transportation of goods for many years to come, Parish President Riley "Pee Wee" Berthelot said.

"The Port of Greater Baton Rouge is a landmark that has been a valued economic engine for West Baton Rouge Parish since 1956," he said. "This commitment from the state on the new proposed rail will keep them in competitive position for years to come."

The project has been in the works for several years, said Mike Strain, commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. It will enhance the region's distinction as one of the busiest – and most vital – transportation hubs in the nation.

"It will increase the volume and transfer of goods at a rapid rate, and will allow for uninterrupted delivery of grain, wood pellets and other commodities when the river levels are too high or too low for normal commerce by barge or ship," he said.