WWL>Topics>>12-13 3:10pm Angela, trains through Mid City

12-13 3:10pm Angela, trains through Mid City

Dec 13, 2013|

Should the train that runs through Old Metairie be rerouted to Mid-City and Hollygrove? The concept is a plan to improve rail traffic in New Orleans. One of several options involves rerouting trains that currently run through Old Metairie to a set of Amtrak rails that run along Airline Drive and the Earhart Expressway. That goes through Hollygrove and Mid-City…and residents and business owners are protesting. We talk about the controversy. Our guests: Councilwoman Susan Guidry, from Mid-City--Graham Bosworth and Debra Voelker; from Hollygrove Lonnie Hewitt and consultant Tim Garrett.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

I appreciate you staying with this for our third hour we have a very very important discussion coming up. About the moving of train tracks from all Metairie to -- city that proposal. But first we do have a developing story about a school shooting in arapahoe high school in Centennial, Colorado this is just outside of Denver. And Colorado sheriff says the suspect. At the Denver area high school has died of an apparent self inflicted gunshot wound. Arapahoe sheriff five Grayson Robinson said today that one other student also was wounded. In the high school students were filed out very orderly lines with their hands over their heads. And again this investigation is containing him will have an update in thirty minutes from CBS. How would you like a railroad built through your neighborhood. One that could have thirty or forty trains going through a day. Well that's exactly what people who live in mid city and holly Grover fearing. As they learn about a re routing of the tracks that run through old Metairie which may be moved to their neighborhoods. Graham Bosworth is with the C is chair of the mid city neighborhood association. -- Hewlett is a resident of the palm air neighborhood in holly growth. Deborah Volcker is a third generation mid cities citizen and believe me they are not happy about this. Also with this is Tim Garrett who is -- staying neutral on the subject but who has followed the discussion. Of re routing the tracks for the last thirty years. And we're so happy to have councilwoman Susan victory here who has publicly stated that -- doing this is going to be unacceptable. In about thirty minutes or so we'll also get a call from. I jump percent parish president John Young who's gonna join us by phone and he is very clearly for that so it's going to be a very interesting hour. Please you call if you have any thoughts on it as we learn more about this. First of all thank you so much I'm thrilled that everybody's in here I'm excited that everybody's in here. I think like you were hit very cold within a week or so of what they want to take the tracks from old Metairie. And they want to move them through holly grove and it's -- Okay we're gonna start with Tim Garrett in your sort of par historian honest and -- -- that yes. Two. You've been studying this for a long time this didn't come up last week this has been an ongoing discussion. I've been asked how far back these studies go and actually after World War II was when Jefferson -- started looking at ways to get some of their trains out of the parish. So it's been going on for over seventy years OK but most recently. Now the most recent study I think dates back to 2008 or so and focuses really on just a couple of alternatives. To getting trains off of what they call them back belt which -- runs through old Metairie on its way to gentility. And putting it somewhere else it could be along the front belt which is the riverfront track owned by the New Orleans public belt railroad. Or creating a so called middle belts which route route tracks along holly grove. Under the Isetan and put out about by where the old bomber -- its lowest personal preserves. And run the trains the freight trains up along the Amtrak track by these cemeteries. Let me talk first to councilwoman. Susan -- Won there wasn't a shock. What is -- Shockey is the amount of traffic that they are talking about. I know this has been studied for many years. It's fairly new to be in terms of just coming in when I came into office -- began to hear something about it. It sounded it back I was presented as if it were a done deal all that this didn't study for decades in that this is what. What was going to happen. But it wasn't until very recently stacked. I sat down with DO TD and said exactly what are we talking about here. And the answer to that question is an answer that is it to -- the words come out of me the same every time is totally unacceptable. Hit we're talking sixty -- freight trains a day a mile plus long each. Going through the same areas of my district and -- in their neighborhoods highly growth in mid city. And that's on top of commuter trains some that are there now some that are happening now and some that are plant. Says it is just it's just it's like we get all the burden and that's not acceptable is it going to be adding tracks through neighborhoods and businesses. -- -- -- -- It's going to be for the most part using existing track. And. Tim there there would be some tracks added right it would add back to track along the airline corridor that was taken up years ago. And they were to add two more tracks that would parallel the I ten going Blake bound. And in order to do that they will be expropriated in several residences perhaps to businesses and think Patrick park in mid city. Apartment he's been a viable part of our community for over seven years. And what about -- -- Well and and -- it appears as though for the most likely uses this way. The problem is -- that you bring you know hold different type of traffic. School and probably acquired some X pro peace for the most put it doesn't appeal Mars appropriation. But the amount of traffic in and wanted to permanently there and -- concerns -- property value. The property values upon his an area -- on the comeback. From Hurricane Katrina I -- live in the heart India Palmieri which is right -- -- parallel to I don't want our way. Immediate practicing to come back in Tennessee in that two -- I was fortunate it was able to get back in my home you don't really periods but it you drafted there you see people still struggling to get back. You know I had a problem. What property -- -- -- home his -- Bosnia. Many of us did it in and hit a lot to do location not the value of the home themselves so loose sharp change in now they have this on top. Is just unconscionable. Mid city yes that city is upset. And that is very upset that. I can understand. Just kind of playing devil's advocate why. Anyone they densely populated. Living area wouldn't want the train going through and at the city and the state and federal government in the railroads are gonna invest offers to a billion dollars -- To make the trains more efficient. You in my mind take those trains and you move them outside of the densely populated. Living there to move from one densely populated populated though living area into another densely populated living area makes no sense whatsoever. When you look at the map and what they're doing -- taking the shortest distance between two points which is that back belts that runs through matters. And then -- are running a longer track which requires a 110 degree turn. Which requires engineering feats that at least at one point during the development of this train precluded us from being considered viable option. And for no reason other than apparently matter doesn't want up there and this is the first an incident never organizations heard of this was in the past few weeks and from what we've learned over the course the past week John Young was involved in discussions years ago and nobody nobody clued us in what was going on. And now we're finding out that this impractical. Track is being run through holly grove next to the politics and different association. Through mid city through areas that for the first time in decades are actually starting to see economic viability economic growth. And the strain is now going to potentially destroy us. For no reason other than. To make a longer track with a more difficult engineering groups and it just doesn't make any sense to. Help all of our listeners are thinking about what it would be like. To wake up one day and find out that 304060. Trains are going to be going through your neighborhood organizations like Minh city organization and holly grove. Were unaware until recently. Then it looked like it was a fait accompli is that correct. On the imagine my bar and I agreed in the north island newspaper and -- -- con. That this project is essentially going to happen and that there's been no opposition that the best. Option appears to be the middle belt which would -- polygraph and -- city. Frankly that was really the first I knew about this whole project. On now I know that there with the 2007. Feasibility study that I believed in reference to stamp so frankly while. I mining I would suspect most of the holly SP -- while we were rebuilding our homes on from Katrina. Someone with cleaning to appropriate them. So for me Angela I. I'm horrified that throughout this process throughout the development of the Lambert and throughout the throughout the development of the greater New Orleans plane. Throughout the development of the master plan and then that which we are still actively engaged in as a community. That we have missed this piece and that the state and federal government has failed to notify us if not mean. His house is not being at the appropriate. Perhaps the very businesses. And homeowners who will lose their properties they could've gotten a postcard in the me. There were meetings. There -- are probably see some meetings that were held. Within the last year with the in this case here it was one understated Xavier University which -- -- -- act would be. Availed ourselves to. -- abide just not -- and whatever. But that the -- campuses I think you should be that this is he studies supposedly society this is not a done deal. There was three alternative one was taken off the table as an alternative which I don't quite understand why. But to me it -- signal two was not trying to do -- rhetoric to. Data that are being considered -- factory. But the problem is that from the article that came out in a newspaper within the last month and a half. He gave the impression that this is -- complete. That there will quotes about it director greed of planning that. The new bill is a best option and only thing remaining to do because there have been no objects from the audience is to look at mitigation -- -- -- grow. And that was very disturbing that says. -- -- -- -- -- I'm sorry yanks have is can say that I asked. That the DO TV. Why it is. That for instance mid city had no knowledge of this I mean I brought this to mid city at their Christmas event -- two weeks ago -- Him and and and to I ask how is it that these are these people could not know about how is it that you haven't done. Public meetings all in these neighborhoods and they said well our our process is that if someone asks us for a meeting. Then we will hold it. But we don't want to. You know. Pick out places to hold meetings and in some one could accuse it's a purposely missing them. And as it's that you purposely missed every one. Unless they happened to be. You know knowledgeable enough to two inquire. And so -- that's that's in the say they have not going -- to a neighborhood its neighbor did not ask for. Limitation. To fessed up I live on a railroad track I live on the river and the public belt goes by. But the end and it don't go by all day they go -- And I've been my I've been there twenty years have been very mindful of -- -- always alert that if anyone blue. -- -- chemicals a -- you know I'm crisp. But I moved to that area knowing that recovered -- there it's different. To all of a sudden make up one day and say you're gonna have forty to sixty trains going through. Carrying all this. Getting increased cargo is not the issue we want that we have a very vibrant port we want to increase cargo. But. How this is being done is what is -- That's correct didn't. I you know it may be dead in neighborhoods in New Orleans had and may be the mayor may be -- have we may have been slow. And recognizing that there actually came to be a point where the middle belt could be designed. To work because engineers previously said that middle belt idea would not work. But here we are. And we are stating. That at this point of course we want to increase economic development to the extent that these trains do assistance particularly with the port. But we have got to share the burden or you've got to find another way. And what are some other ways. Well I mean. The back belt is not off the table existing track. That runs through -- matter can still be utilized. And I mean this is a point that we discussed previously. When this truck was apparently -- initially in 1909 and it was expanded in 1942. The people in. Old Metairie who purchased or owns the businesses that have developed their the past 708090. Years. They did it. Knowing full well that there was a train track him. One of the options on the table apparently in Richardson can discuss this better -- I can is to elevate that train leave it where it is which is the most direct right. Between. Of Huey. As opposed to sending it through mid city and making this a 110 degree turn Colombia ten. And while battery apparently doesn't want that to happen it makes. If you're going to leave it in the city if you're going to accept the fact that the city once the increased traffic. And it's going to go through the city ignore owns it makes more sense to leave in the area were people of -- purchased people purchased knowing full well that the track is there. And then. Amending the track so that traffic concerns say in -- can be alleviated then sending it through mid city through an area. That hasn't had this track in the first place for people purchased. Never expecting a train to come through where I mean we talked about the economic viability and -- -- drove the -- of market has been an amazing. Event for mid city Costco has come and and collar group is experiencing this economic development and now now you've decided you're going to send this -- -- our growth and basically potentially crushed this development. Decrease property values. It is just as an accent my understanding of what the railroads really don't like about the back belt residents is that it's single tracked for about thirteen hundred feet. From where Metairie road crosses it. Over two -- just inside Orleans parish just pass the seventeenth street canal. So of course they're looking to double tracked the whole thing and I believe Jefferson Parish has fought them on that for about sixty years. The other thing or the double flood walls through which the train passes while crossing the seventeenth street canal and that's an impediment they say if it's flooding. And those flood walls closed. No trains can move and so. They have to look at this from a logistics standpoint. Again I'm just I'm just surprised by all of this. No more than new this is a major event that would happen in neighborhoods. And as you've been saying since post-Katrina you've been looking at maps you've been looking at all going to all of these. Things trying to rebuild. And this just didn't come up. No I mean the mid city -- organization for the past few years has been going ever the master plan has been meeting with the city. Giving their input about the master planned looking over all mean. Version after version map after map. Of all the changes and all the zoning requirements all the variances that are being created by the city. And at no point have we ever seen anything and his master plan that is indicated this train might be coming from it's that it. We have John Young on the phone now and I certainly appreciate you calling. President of Jefferson Parish and John. -- -- -- -- -- But we're fine but a lot of the questions and a lot of concerns about. Of the moving of this track. Well first and foremost there's been a lot of missive from major you know people tribal one that eventually but too simplistic -- Number one this is about a win and falling and jobless and directions to about economic development. It's about creating jobs. Are of this study was actually started because. There was some people want to build a Claiborne avenue El Paso matter. So a study was done to our PC. Louisiana DO GB and look at that several options one of which. Mr. re route to -- along airline court or. Which is a commercial court. It has a win win Angela in the sense that it's gonna eliminate -- Gingrich in terms of hurricane evacuation could eliminate the debt. That airline and Lamar. And just eliminate the dips at the I kit and it's gonna provide additional public capacity. To all those neighborhoods. Specifically. Lakeland often like -- -- It's gonna take trading being part removed trains are being part. -- -- -- It's gonna promote economic development through the -- in the long it's gonna create -- That's what this is about. And just say a if you everything else is misinformation. And not accurate. Well well what about the neighborhood concerns of you know forty to sixty trains going through that they didn't have the day before. Well first of all I don't know whether economic gains from the second of -- let's go back to the fact that we're in the world spare. Changing the law island's there was increased train traffic through the whole matter record on which it was supposed to be temporary. When they cut off the front they'll. Check it evolved airline court orders commercial. In the air in the railroads are willing to do mitigation efforts. There's going to be any additional intersections. Right now on battery you have a situation where you have any intersections. Neighborhoods. In Metairie road which -- be most travel so we traveled. Two lane stay roadway interstate. And its its proper model ability response to fires. In the ability to respond. We're regulated to so. In there's going to be no extra creation this is important. It's gonna go on the same footprint. That exist right now. Although -- again. This is a win went to vote all in jumpers. We're talking about train travel. Being moved from old Metairie in two to New Orleans neighborhoods president a Jefferson -- John -- has joined us. And I guess others would like to talk to you in particular. Concerns about their neighborhoods. And this young with all due respect I have an email from mr. Goodell that I received yesterday that indicates saint Patrick park which is the park in question in this city. And is quote is that. On the dry things in the feasibility study showed that the railroad tracks tracks will -- a corner of the park. And similarly in the two on the 2009. New Orleans real gateway benefits report which is located on DO TP web site it's specifically calls for the reallocation of each quote two homes to businesses and an outdoor recreation field we have reason to believe in another document that it could be six businesses. So I believe that -- used -- per perhaps provided this information that there is definitely. Appropriation. On the table in my mid year. Appropriation. It's not appropriate oh you're right thank you for that correction right next appropriations. And without bail -- have been advised. I don't know -- I'm speaking with for the middle -- appropriation. What we're talking about here -- a win win for all the agent Jefferson and a -- went for the entire metropolitan area. You know the fact of the matter is is that increase railroad traffic has gone through jumps in Paris and in particular low battery. Just in 1984 holes there. Bottom line is do we want jobs and economic development if we don't. Enough that won't happen and guess what. There rail traffic school I can't support -- -- ever go hawks and that's the choice we have so we can be parochial. All we can agree to. Drop -- each other because more train -- going to be blocked and jumps to charge. As a result this less strain -- will report all ranged you get you'll you'll move to. Dips in both US 61. And the I -- which will allow for -- hurricane evacuation. You -- increased flooding in in Orleans parish. And everybody is gonna have to give and take that's what. Would compromise at all about that the end of the day. You're looking at promoting commerce for the portable -- as opposed to mobile. Gulf port or Houston. And and providing jobs for our children and grandchild in in in -- -- -- give and take and that's what happened in democracy. OK I just want to clarify a point mr. young is making the pumping station that's currently devoted to training dip of the I ten under that train bridge. The DO TD has said if indeed. That track court to disappear that that level like ten and turn that pumping stations capacity toward the adjacent neighborhoods and use that to drive doing. Which would increase in improved pumping capacity -- neighborhoods and all scratch. Specifically Lakewood north and -- so that would free up an additional eight -- deny any CSS. Wonder how big this song like a good idea because I can tell you I'm person concerned with the drainage I lived very near the Monticello seventeenth street canal. Windows to exhaust pipes up in place. So I'm I'm curious and very glad to hear you talk about drainage. And how this affects our area because we have been impeded on. In the past after market trading. Obama really told what I LA I want to reflect good. We're working right now the city walls in this news this is separate and apart from that the rare -- issue. Just trying to improve drainage in the modest celebration and then in a police station. In jobs and parish because that is a situation where it would go on to the state legislature always jobs and to gather. And I actually have a meeting scheduled this Friday was Cedric grant to try to move that -- it. To improve drainage. For both. -- -- In old -- no battery so another. Potential byproduct of betrayal relocations to get red arrows do too also put up some money to improve the strange. There's a lot of collateral benefits to this particular study again and our stress to everyone that -- study. That's looking at several options this is one of the options that's. It's called all of that but by no means it is the only option that the study looking I don't wanna make that. And that's a very important point and I wish we had two more hours to discuss this and in fact we're going to do another show at another time because this impacts a lot of people we'd love to have annual millions of. Patient out there I think we all leader -- could be Atlanta today. What is in the best interest of the entire metropolitan community and and certainly there is gonna be some give and take. But right at the same time everybody has to realize. That you know to promote the 1984 world -- additional train traffic was voice of formal better. John thank you very much joining us we have had a very interesting one hour talk I can promise you we're gonna just continue to discuss this at a later date. Susan good read it one last statement yes and it just wouldn't say a couple of things first ball. This is an environmental impact study that's going on. We are years away from anything happening we have time second it -- we're talking about possibly 700 million dollar project. So may never come to fruition. But with with group regard to the threat of taking it elsewhere. I've been told that that threat is not important. That train traffic will increase everywhere over -- time we're gonna have the increase it's just a matter of where. And the win win doesn't happen and how he -- and Canadian city.