The Southern Rail Commission (SRC) is pleased to announce the election of Commissioner Wiley Blankenship, President and CEO of the Coastal Alabama Partnership, to the Executive Committee as Secretary/Treasurer. Commissioner Blankenship joins SRC’s Vice-Chairman Knox Ross, former Mayor of Pelahatchie, MS and Chairman John Spain, Executive Vice President of the Baton Rouge Area Foundation in leading the Southern Rail Commission.
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The Southern Rail Commission (SRC) regrets that it was unable to apply for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s FY17 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety and Improvements (CRISI) funding due to the lack of state funding commitments from Mississippi and Alabama. The CRISI program was created and funded with the support of Senator Wicker and then-Senator Cochran, and the Gulf Coast rail project was well suited to take advantage of this unique opportunity. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was prepared to commit $9.5million towards the project. The SRC stands ready to apply for the FY18 round of funding should Mississippi and Alabama commit the required matching funds.
According to the Trent Lott National Center at the University of Southern Mississippi, restoring passenger rail along the Gulf will deliver an annual return on investment of between $64 million and $525 for Mississippi, between $19 million and $229 million for Alabama, and between $86M and $378M for Louisiana, depending on the increase in tourism. The combined local match between Mississippi and Alabama of approximately $20 million would be more than offset by this $64 million and $525 for Mississippi, between $19 million and $229 million for Alabama, and between $86M and $378M for Louisiana, depending on the increase in tourism. The combined local match between Mississippi and Alabama of approximately $20 million would be more than offset by this unprecedented return on investment.
“I know I speak for my fellow Commissioners when I say I’m very disappointed to not take advantage of this funding for which Gulf Coast Passenger Rail is so perfectly suited. We’ll turn our sights to the 2018 fiscal year, and I’m hopeful we will have full support to apply for CRISI funds at that time,” said John Spain, SRC Chairman.
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