Passenger rail group finding priorities

Officials tasked with developing a plan to restore passenger rail service throughout the Gulf Coast are barreling toward their September deadline.

In anticipation of re-connecting rail service severed in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, the 30-member Gulf Coast Rail Working Group is evaluating needed railway improvements, ridership feasibility studies and infrastructure upgrades.

The working group was a provision in a sweeping transportation bill approved by Congress in December. The Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act is a 5-year, $305-billion plan to improve the nation's infrastructure, including roads, bridges, transit systems and passenger rail networks.

The working group will receive $500,000 over two years to create a report to be presented to Congress.

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