WWL>Topics>>8-5-14 2:10pm Angela: on the Old Metairie railroad

8-5-14 2:10pm Angela: on the Old Metairie railroad

Aug 5, 2014|

Angela talks with Earl Williams of Trinity Christian Communities, Karen Ocker of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, and Lonnie Hewlett and Graham Bosworth of the Hollygrove-Dixon neighborhood about why the railroad running through Old Metairie shouldn't be moved to Hollygrove.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

All imagine you've lived in your neighborhood for a couple of years or a couple of decades. And you survived Katrina and like is back to normal. Then imagine you wake up one day and here -- there plans to move railroad tracks through your neighborhood. -- that will transport may be 32 trains through your area 24 hours today or worse. Well that is exactly what happened to residents in several New Orleans neighborhoods. Who have banded together to fight. The coalition united against the middle belt railroad is here to updates update us on the battle. And joining us is Earl Williams trinity Christian community chair and spokesperson. Karen -- that city neighborhood organization. Graham bonds worth. Hollywood Dixon neighborhood. I've said that for heavens think eroded down everybody and -- holly grove Dixon neighborhood. And -- Hewitt with the -- -- association. I just I'm glad to have you all back and look I'm looking forward to this update and the only did this way back in December. It was it was very surprising and I think we have to remind people that what we're talking about is. The the railroad track that now goes through. Old Metairie is the one that your. People announcing let's move it let's move to Orleans parish and that's were began mr. so kind of take -- back. About what that would mean. To your neighborhoods. Well for me it's funny and I believe it'll mean. The acquisition or expert creation of a number an unknown number of historic residences and structures including businesses along I ten. Time it would include a what appears to be very sharp. Possibly six to eight -- turf which can increase the safety issues arm. And I think essentially it's going to move the problems that matter he's been having with vibration and noise team -- city. Rather than solving the problem on our community. You know and where of course concerned about the cargo which I believe is about 7%. Chemical and hazardous cargo. And. Having that coming through you know popular I mean pocket you know pop urban neighborhoods that are you know pretty good populations is not currently. Something that we. What is the basis for them wanting to move I mean it's it's again the rare attract that we all have been stopped on at some point and on elementary -- Metairie road. And and you can see that it is congested -- then there'll long time so there's just been this movement of -- to clear it out of this area to put it into another. It's traffic congestion and -- Metairie. We always have the situation on Metairie road where. People. It -- traffic has been contested because of -- -- passing. And they after it was suggested to do to mitigate dissident. It would relieve the traffic congestion -- while suggestion is. To it to us the most logical suggestion. Is to elevate the train tracks that those particular points of congestion. And it was solve the problem in not only that that they would go from seventeen. Real world cross since Obama victory. He makes too much yes look at that. I think from a national level what happened is they wanted to move trains through -- -- area faster there or there -- frustration with the amount of time it's taken for -- to make it to the -- area. There are a number of options are on the table and for whatever reason without really taking public input and they just summarily decided that -- only two options that are on the table. Who is snake. Well. I think this video. Is our view is we understand it was in these. Deal TV department trips to Sonoma State agency. In conjunction with the regional planning. Authorities as well as some -- consortium's. They actually go off funding to study has been done OK the problem is that. As -- mentioned there were -- options that would gradually make to the alternatives. And somehow publicly it's been suggested that the only two. In the most prominent of those to be in the middle belt which would propose to. And I've always been under the impression that there were more than three in this potentially four options the the options that. Seems to make the most sense to me and obviously -- we Auburn opinions on this. Is the -- twelfth court which is a far less densely populated area that doesn't require putting -- train through -- Are against the populated urban setting. But that was dismissed apparently is too costly the committed 800 million dollars to improving traffic and the only two options that are on the table is improving the backfield which is currently existing rare road and track it's a track that's been their for a hundred years. Every parcel of property that and orders that railroad track. Has been developed parceled sold Bob lived in for a hundred years with the full knowledge of that train being there. And then there's the middle belt in the the option that's being presented by DOT the is let's just take this problem that's an old Metairie and put it in normal it's. It doesn't actually improved. The problem if anything -- potentially causes more issues the derail our road in the middle belt. Is below sea level -- suffer potential flooding issues -- should another Katrina happen. And then you also have a turn there at of Carrollton at two and which. Cause for a number of years that middle belts be deemed unsafe. As an alternative for a rail transport and only recently have they changed their minds that note you know we think it's gonna be fine. But you're basically taking a problem that has existed no matter for a hundred years and just moving to New Orleans without actually solving the problem you're just kind of moving from one never to another and that's our frustration. What what has been the response -- -- -- represent different groups of those who you were part. Well on our in how -- grew we weren't even privy to what's gone on until the article appeared in. The times Picayune. And we began to organize and offers meeting me at 65 people. The second meeting we have been invited it was citywide invitation and -- -- about a 165 people. The last in this is kind of giving you an update that way where -- at the last meeting and we and with representatives of DO TDs is linkage was there. They will with 350. People. Standing room only so. That go to the point that we do want to make is that this is not an us vs them situation -- Is actually a coalition Natalie neighborhoods that is has expanded nation I mean citywide in Ava takes and nation well we could touch on that a bit. But in the last and I'll say this. The last Merrill debate. All three major candidates including Mary Mitchell and you stated their opposition to rerouting the railroads from. All Metairie to holly grove and you very appreciative of that. Wouldn't it take the permission of the mayor and the City Council to do something like this -- can DO TD just. Do what I want well. At least for a portion of the rail which is the New Orleans senior passenger terminal rail. That's on city property and the city gained control full control that property around 2002. And they had given management to New Orleans building corporation. On and so I think there's still is a question remains whether or not the council would have a vote on this I think it's a little unclear. I'm however they would have to be contract as there is now -- Amtrak to use and that's the eastern side I think of the Amtrak on. And so this -- The city will have to enter into contracts and sort with the class one for every now and in track. Probably three new New Orleans building corporation. Like today it's it's complex but but it still just very interesting and. I'm sure from the and we would always welcome the railroad people or DO TV who would -- like to be here we'd love to talk to you. About sort of what is this philosophy and yes we want maybe they wanna be more efficient they want to stop the traffic times and they wanna be faster whenever. But it just opening a whole host of other issues. And very very curious wouldn't take a break and come back give us your thoughts on 2601878260187. They'd love to hear. What you would think should be done or should be done if you woke up one day and found out the -- come stay with this I'm Angela on WW. Over talking with a group a group of neighborhood groups who have formed a coalition. To fight what they -- isn't as as a huge in Venice. Being suggested for their various neighborhoods and that is the re routing. Of of late. Railroad. Track that has been for what you -- hundred years going through old Metairie. And beyond and now they want to take that because of the traffic congestion and other issues. And move it into. All over so be holly grove it would be. Gallagher Dixon and it is an answer and come here central. That is a lot so you found out about this. But much of the work had been done. Absolutely. Absolutely as I mentioned we weren't privy to it on the outside while ago. -- today on the -- was published in the times Picayune in November of last year. And that's when we began organized but the good thing about it is that we found that we felt we were on the island about cells. And now all of a sudden we have this coalition and these friends that I have and -- in and -- -- say this real quickly if it's an unprecedented. -- -- for neighborhood to come together and you know and laws sometimes it's hard to get one neighborhood can. So you're you're. The powers that be are recognizing that you all are resisting this Epson. Absolutely yeah I just had this conversation with the United States secretary of transportation. Anthony Foxx and he expressed his concern Natalie is concerned with the this possibility. But he also that he also has simply kept this office surprised. Aware what was gone on and process. And again you are you've done research on. Literally what this would mean to these neighborhoods would be how many cars a day. What kind of product was being transported. I mean as far as I know I'm it's something like seventy percent that would be cat hazardous chemical cargo. Their pin numbers discussed. You know of a mile long trained. On end up somewhere around 35 trains per day I mean that's. You know that's not maybe necessarily including passenger trains on top of that so I think it's a little unclear and it's. Com. It also seems there's room in the middle belt for expansion down the road which could increase it further. And so you know it's again we certainly have concerns about the kind of cargo. Particularly on the Carol sinkers. Again for people who are you know there's a public built from -- goes all around the city and then Europe the middle section and it. They're calling the route the current round the existing route runs through that rents in Metairie is called the back bounce back. The existing route that runs through old Jefferson and. On and along the river. Iran is considered the front -- And this is eight a third the middle belt is in between the two innocent third you know proposed relief it's the relocation of the existing -- You know it's just it's interesting to me that you all would would not be. You understand the frustration is unsure of the people who now live where they are and that's my thing trying to move it. As you are saying there's a more creative way which seems very common sense to. Just -- if traffic is the big issue. And and if this has been going on that. Say a hundred years do the track them back belts has been in place I believe for about a hundred years so that area was. Crops and things -- It wasn't as you developed with pulled out of there and being right. It's a little bit like because I live by the railroad downtown I knew when I moved in February and that's exactly right it's not going away. So now everybody is enough for and we got to move it do you think it is more the population that wants it moved or do you think that it is wanting that for the railroads to be more efficient and perhaps make more money. Well I think that would depend yes -- -- yeah and rare ruling probably the city's more efficient -- -- people elementary. You know and so Politico terms liked Agassi who. The the issue though that there are concerned -- -- -- babies. You know missile. Is the property. Tool. Damaged and it could be one. Imagine if you try this don't you -- -- moves zeros and you know. People realize study on on. And it may be over -- this going to be move Jason to optical properties is -- in the psychologically. You know is innocent person would -- yes it would move. This area so to come back in my area. There are I think we're probably around -- Palmieri we proudly dissent. Town's residents coming back -- these -- -- -- -- -- people have not come back. This was handled so area. You know. Makes race area mixing. Location very right here right here with two instantly. But will be in question. You know particularly young families just to please look at. And our concern also listed in his with a young people. Because. We've done studies with the best babies on and it's been proven that there high levels of pollutants and carcinogens are ready. And in how holly growth. And with the deep emissions -- call large particulate and how it carcinogenic. And so we can whip our our kids are young kids we about to build -- -- school and how to go about kits would be. Exposed to these carcinogenic exposures and pollutants. How did you -- involved in this. Well -- and. Until I first hear of it hell I remembered -- There was a Christmas party were somebody had learned about this -- through conversation. And that traveled swing through the neighborhood -- mean. I'm at which point I got in touch with some folks that I -- -- it. -- get in touch with curling and whoever he -- -- and care benefits kick return has been a community leader in mid city for a long time. It's now so you carry the banner and pitcher you've done tremendous style. Salute them and salute. I remember after. We had this meeting and -- -- show in December of last year. Right before the election we got Maryland -- and I asked him about it and he said you know I think it's a long way off. That does is decision that will be a long way off. And yet I'm I'm getting essential new wall. You're not feeling well that's. Technically true that this wouldn't actually happen for years down the road. The decision making process is occurring right now and it's nearing its conclusion once that decision was made it mean once that boulder rolls downhill. I'm not sure there's -- stopping him it's important for the community to get involved now to stop this before. The boulder sort of rolling even though the construction might not be 5678910. Years down the road. They're in the process of something called the environmental impact study right now and one of the reasons we are setting meeting up. On October -- to -- August 14. I'm just a week are so. Is to ensure that the community knows exactly. What's going on why it's important to be involved now and why it's important that we get our input in before the environmental impact studies released. Stay with a good thing too is that we understand it if that happens quite some time. And -- estimate of planning and planning is to project what happened in the -- mountainous -- dealing some would present. So it's more than than us fighting put ourselves. -- -- -- community. That knows her commitment on us as well and we realize this is a study in this is the time to look so pretty well. To signal we do not want this. Even if you got in late in the game and you're saying your voice can be heard out soon. Stay with us everyone we're going to break for news but we'll be back talking about and again I wanna say I love. There email address. We won't be real rodent that gmail.com. Stay with this I'm Angela under -- -- do well. Well the coalition is sitting in front of me and they are here to stop a proposed. Moving of -- trains in -- into Orleans parish. Earl Williams withdrew -- Christian community he is the chair and spokesperson. Karen walker mid city neighborhood organizer. And Graham Bosworth holly -- did. Asset right Holley -- Dixon neighborhood and -- Hewitt with the -- mayor civic association. You'll have joined hands because you were very concerned about what this means not just in neighborhoods today -- whenever -- but for the future. And and I'm glad to hear that when you. When the question was broached by all three candidates for mayor including -- our existing mayor Mitch Lander that they were against it. I think people need to hear that. But but the powers that be and I think I keep going back to that is the Department of Transportation. And the railroad companies. You have met with them. There hasn't there been a meeting where they've been. Yes OK -- January 23 meeting they had come via its okay do intensity as to when did you. When they saw that you were unhappy about this what was their reaction. Well I think initially very. Hard to make a point and this is just -- -- study. And that there's a process. That they have to boot and we respect their process. We just want to make sure that this study. Does that to. People so consumers. Will now they know that you -- listening into amateur organizing and that's important. Real quick we've got a caller still in -- don't. Several engines on this. -- -- About -- I think I don't think it -- that really wanna move are really believe it's the residents' civil matter. That one goal coming back -- offers the most direct growth. Problem along these from agents -- -- better to be you can log bridge. So neat story grow very. What our group of people hurt you more turns that -- streamed down the reverend ball goes slow -- -- the the most direct -- They're taking yet so I would think that it expression being put on them -- a in the civil matter. Old battery and not being or also an -- being a year ago. They put in with the ordinance -- matter that was -- from the seventeenth street. -- -- Straight can upload -- At all they ever -- bell at all about the stop anymore everywhere and an area they can't arbitrary manner. Or any engine area. With the voter fraud and Ireland and solitary can do is go straight through all -- about stop. Speed -- for about an hour. Don't think -- -- -- Even have a smile all caught for tomorrow quick and so did you talk about basically. Borrowed and keeping your photos to cross and -- which is the biggest problems. I mean. It was at a fair compromise. Was it -- and I was a compromise on average -- two. Not let them stop and keep things going as that play area became more populated. Yeah I mean it's our problem or an automated. -- -- -- you know -- -- will be it will definitely don't need. Just stop there anymore and it's -- -- As a parent you can bet that they've gotten. What they want. To call it. You know -- electorate spot but -- and you know all had done an autograph in. We don't want we don't know if not able to move beyond it. And everybody knows all matters got money. Probably grow out -- much. So it is you know to me it's just not right -- -- the money they say we ought to call bush. Well what holly -- has now friends and and these people are very organized and it's not going to be as -- Autograph. And I mean his his point is absolutely correct the back belt is the most direct. Routes through the city it's far more direct in the middle -- the middle belt is actually. And if you think of it as a triangle is two legs of the triangle. Well back belts is just the mystery shop through. And we talks about the curves and into something that we talked about there is a very very sharp curve that would be required for trains that take metal belts. -- talked earlier about studies in Edmonton in 1975. It was deemed. Unsafe to actually. -- trains along what is being called middle belt because of that curve but it was too dangerous in 1989 they said it was too dangerous to -- trains along maker. In fact I think Thursday. The old -- yes from. 1980 -- The correct combination of factors on that curve could lead to a catastrophic occurrence due to derailment. Which would destroy the railroad facility highway facility and property and lives DJ and tolerance. That was the department of transportation. They made that determination as recently as 1989. So I don't know whether or not. Is this is -- matter -- just trying to push something through for political reasons I mean the facts are with the facts are. But that it doesn't change the fact that the back -- as he straighter safer option in the middle. That's the whole point right there and certainly when you're able to re. Read to the Department of Transportation the next meeting. Perhaps their own words. They'll remember. But I think one can hope -- has never been recommended. Preferred rap stars and now. And certainly matter has been offered mediation and they were recommendations. Made. From I think in 1996 there was a study on that matter never implement them -- -- that would like to. Okay. I really appreciate your insights into this very much appreciate the call -- We're gonna take another break and come back and we're still talking about railroads practice. Well we are with the coalition who is finding out that the removal of a railroad. The moving up to New Orleans. From Jefferson Parish. You have a comment. Yeah bulge order they're they're debating -- -- dark about maybe. I don't think you can elevator over both sections but if you could do a -- in local Metairie road you're probably you know -- look like they're trapped half a mile. And that's the main congestion area. Result global -- right here by where everything comes and the call waiting you know you can you can get out there YouTube better rumors were really become congested. -- -- -- -- Reroute trains per year Ortiz and little -- and -- -- section. Over battery road salt well. And that was thought of buying -- Earl Williams our guest about elevating. Yet -- -- response when mitigation as mentioned you know it's been something that was. Very much enough favorite into need to see it is that simple in most logical solution and I agree totally with them. Does that fall on deaf ears or do they have a reason why they think it would work. But the 2007 study. Analysis actually provides very detailed solutions for each particular crossing. On and it's my impressions matter just as one. And that they have had similar. You know ideas. Offered and in the past and just haven't implemented them and those include overpasses and under passes to him now. The -- traffic to avoid crossing. But -- you made a very good point yeah. I was gonna say I believe that. The Department of Transportation has specifically said the 800 million in question could in fact be used to elevate the back ultimately via via. The congestion but it's been Jefferson parishes official position that they will. Not elevate one. They will not elephant that's my understanding -- I'll I'll I'll I'll tell me about this meeting -- -- on August 14 at one is open to everybody. It is it is open to everyone. Are we gonna talk about a couple things. If -- the meeting will be August 14 at 7 PM. At Esperanza scoop on on on north Carrollton avenue for the full seven. Whether things are we gonna talk about is the it's called Nepa and the national environmental policy act. And basically it's a federal law that requires a review of the effects of a major. Federal action. Including federally assisted after federally licensed actions in a couple things in -- -- determination. Awaken that need must be addressed. The identification of alternative ways environmental impact to some begin to discuss -- as pertains to him via the draft environmental impact survey because they kind of go hand in hand. And let me say this to a quick the last week and I have the neighbors to break out of the citizens. To break on the small groups and to determine. How each area he shall count each neighborhood would be affected adversely by the re -- rotting in the trying. So you all will be doing that like working group -- in this area this is gonna happen in this area this is what I mean it's absolutely -- they. Is the -- today are they having a report coming out soon did I hear you say that are here. They dictate the the date keeps being pushed up first of disposed -- the the fall of this year. And now -- talking about this for -- a -- at the highest return that's awesome time in 2015 if I'm correct. That is actually correct in an email from the Department of Transportation. That it they're looking at possibly spring 2015 on that and in January we have been told it would be summer 24 -- okay. But now it's in fifteen that the Department of Transportation well. Have reports -- you're trying to your own prior to absolutely. Absolutely primarily to determine the environment in impact. The rerouting of the railroads shall would be. Everything from how many homes would have to be. I -- holes and have to be move imminent will eminent domain come into play. When neighbors be forced to sell the homes property values would decrease and an historic homes demolished. Historic structures it's very close to. Teams from 1840s. And we have cultural resources that they don't. Would not impact in the same impact else. The concern at the moment is that the Department of Transportation has kind of made up its mind that it wants one option or the other and that they might turn a blind side. To the real ramifications of putting the train and the middle belt and we wanna make sure that. All the ramifications that they might not be considering a -- put in the report is in fact put out there to into the public and that these issues are made. Part of the discussion. And -- federally required to entertain. These these ideas and opinions are very important thing here is to keep the community more. So people can express their concerns. And appease concerns adequately address the study that's being. -- at some point do you feel that our City Council or are the mayor himself. Has to be a major in involved in this if in fact they're against it. No absolutely absolutely councilwoman Dugard has come monitors strongly consider opposed to a console -- he's only public figure that envelope. This come out publicly. To speak against it. And we're asking that you know all of us who the leaders who counseled people that knowledge you know while state and federal legislative. Come obvious because we think that's the only protection area. Is Susan injury she's the councilwoman for all of these neighborhoods correct. For all of the neighborhoods just Acadia district and. The council person who's. Being controlled portions the neighborhoods that are directly affected by other erode I think it's important to know LaToya controls also council member rifts. Parts of -- city in her. Her district there are other. Council members whose districts touch upon areas but not directly. Onto the reverend but it's our position that. This change affects the city at large and it shouldn't just be -- member -- who's been -- again a vocal Obama supporter of -- of the coalition against middle belt. But every member of the city should realize that. Moving the railroad from the backed out of the belt doesn't actually benefit or owns 90% of the rail traffic that comes through the New Orleans area doesn't stop here. And this is being done simply for trends that are gonna go elsewhere. And that the damage to New Orleans is unnecessary and it really is just pushing a problem from Jefferson Parish in Orleans and an elected official should be -- And that's important to note that this is just that. Effort that would affect three of four neighborhoods but it's gonna affect the city to city it -- -- enough -- the situation with. Which fracking and this going to be even greeted transport a petrol chemical products though. This has opportunities to Reynolds is cold -- it can really exacerbating even further than that even in what we can imagine he entertained at this point. Well as those things increase. The Department of Transportation. And that the railroads should be saying OK we have these new plants coming online we -- kinds of things. How we can handle with the existing things with existing tracks. And then but if you're saying they're gonna lose time that it's going to be a more circuitous route it makes no sense. I agree. Absolutely and now and it doesn't seem like any study. In in the past is ever found this to be preferred routes that would be interesting to see how they could come up with this as a preferred route now and what would be so to -- what is -- -- yeah. I don't know I just to all of our listeners I just hope you would put yourself in these people -- and and your rights or it is. About the city of New Orleans after the for these neighborhoods that's its major. And and good for you all that -- That you joined hands because there is there's great things in numbers and allow her voice. Appreciate I think each and every one of you for joining us today and we and keep us abreast as we're always here to talk about. Thank you for evidence that they get dressed and come back some suggested to you yes absolutely. Stay with -- everyone we'll be right back. If you wanna know more about this they are having a meeting next Thursday August 14 7 PM at Esperanza charter school. That's at 4407. South Carol -- avenue. Appreciate to Alston and stay with this though and get your tax questions ready. We've got the assessor for the next whole hour.