November 26, 2013
New Orleans, LA…Last week, District “C” Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee and chair of the Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact, shared updates with the public and policy makers on the Rail Compact initiative. On Friday, November 22nd, Gisleson Palmer held a Transportation Committee meeting to discuss the objectives of the Compact. Rachel DiResto, Executive Vice President of the Center for Planning Excellence (CPEX) presented findings from the CPEX CONNECT Coalition’s research and outreach efforts for the Compact.
Enacted by legislation passed in the 2010 legislative session, the Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact met for the first time on October 2, 2013 to elect leadership and receive an update on a rail feasibility study underway for the New Orleans to Baton Rouge corridor. The CPEX CONNECT Coalition has been conducting research and outreach along the corridor to facilitate the formation of the Compact. The Compact Committee is comprised of regional leaders, many of whom are interested in exploring regional rail service as a way to increase residents’ access to job opportunities and employer access to the City and region’s workforce among other objectives outlined by the legislature.
Additionally during Friday’s meeting, Mrs. DiResto, Councilmember Gisleson Palmer and other members of the Council discussed CPEX’s annual Smart Growth Summit which was held November 18-20 at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge. Councilmember Gisleson Palmer was invited to participate in two of the Summit’s panel presentations – one on the Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact and one showcasing New Orleans’ Complete Streets policy program.
“The Rail Compact and statewide interest in New Orleans’ Complete Streets Policy point to a positive shift in how our local and state officials are viewing public transit,” says Councilmember Gisleson Palmer. “I look forward to advancing these and other transit initiatives to the benefit of our residents and investors looking at our city and region.”
In 2011, Gisleson Palmer authored the first Complete Streets ordinance in Louisiana which mandates that all roadways must be constructed and designed for all users. The ordinance was successfully adopted by the City Council and supported by the Mayor and the Administration. The program has been in effect since 2012. Some examples of Complete Street roadways that were recently redesigned are Esplanade Avenue, General Meyer Boulevard, and North Peters Street and Decatur Street in the French Quarter. Design and planning requirements of the Complete Streets program make roadways user-friendly and promote alternate means of transportation such as walking and biking. This means that roadways are more accessible and more safe for all users.
Act #858, passed in the 2010 Legislative session, authorized the creation of a Louisiana Intrastate Rail Compact with the goals of developing and improving an efficient, safe and well-maintained system of rail and other transit ways. Officers of the Rail Compact Chairperson – New Orleans City Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer, Vice-Chair – Cornelius Lewis, Baton Rouge appointee and Secretary/Treasurer – Ryland Percy, Ascension Parish appointee.