More Train Traffic in the Horizon for Gretna

Despite the recent vote to not build a new section of track through downtown Gretna, both the Gretna mayor and railroad executives say there will still be railroad work on the horizon.

“The traffic is coming,” Robert Bach, president and chief operating officer of Rio Grande Pacific Railroad, said Tuesday. “We were seeking for a way to handle it more efficiently. The city disagreed, so we’re going to stick with what we’ve got.”

The expected railroad traffic is due to the proposed liquid fuel terminal that will be in Plaquemines Parish. The $2.5 billion crude oil export terminal is proposed by Kansas-based Tallgrass Energy and will be located in the Myrtle Grove area nearly 25 miles downriver. That means that there could be approximately four trains with 100 cars that will go back and forth through Gretna on a weekly basis.

“Our efforts now are focused on the traffic that we foresee coming and handling (it) on the current route, sans curve,” Bach said.

Rio Grande Pacific Railroad says the planned new connector would alleviate the process of trains having to go in and out of a switching yard located in Gretna in order to pass through the town on their way to Plaquemines. This would allow trains to pass through Gretna in less time and would bypass a portion of the route that includes an elementary school and many residential homes.

Many city officials and members of Gretna’s legislative delegation do not want trains to go through Gretna’s downtown area period. They feel that there are too many unprotected railroad crossings in the area. They hoped that an alternate plan that would reroute trains on new tracks that would be built along Peters Road would allow the downtown area to escape the train traffic.

This alternative plan would cost $350 million and would take several years to complete. According to Rio Grande, the liquid fuel terminal would not make enough income to pay for moving the tracks.

“We have to come together to work on a unified plan to reroute that rail if Gretna is going to survive any expansion in Plaquemines Parish,” Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant said.

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