City shows support for rail corridor ID

Published 9:45 am Thursday, April 13, 2023

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The city of Atmore joined other regional municipalities in its support of the Northwest Florida Passenger Rail Corridor, Corridor ID grant program application.

The city sent the letter March 17, 2023 to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration.

“We are proud to join with our regional neighbors and partners in the effort of reinstating passenger rail service to northwest Florida,” Mayor Jim Staff wrote. “We seek to continue the natural evolution of passenger rail service that the Southern Rail Commission (SRC) has worked tirelessly to achieve with the imminent reinstatement of service from New Orleans to Mobile.”

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Staff added that the city supports the city of Pensacola’s Corridor ID grant application to continue passenger service from Mobile to Tallahassee, and ultimately from Jacksonville to Orlando, submitted on behalf of the cities and counties in northwest Florida.”

According to city of Pensacola officials, the city has been working with the SRC, Florida Department of Transportation, Amtrak and cities and counties across northwest Florida in an effort to reinstate passenger service from New Orleans to Tallahassee, with subsequent phases to Jacksonville and ultimately Orlando.

“We are aware that passenger service from New Orleans to Mobile is imminent, and we aim to build on that success with service continuing into and through Florida,” City of Pensacola Public Information Officer Kaycee Lagarde said in an email. “On Monday, March 27, the city of Pensacola submitted a Corridor ID grant application to restore passenger rail service to northwest Florida.”

Lagarde said while the city recognizes this is no small task, the $66 billion made available to the FRC through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law creates an opportunity as we have not see in the past.

“The Corridor ID grant program will be administered by the Federal Railroad Administration and will provide up to $500,000 with no match requirement for step one of a three-step process,” Lagarde said. “Step one includes preparation of a scope, schedule, and cost estimate for developing or updating a Service Development Plan, or SDP. Once a corridor is selected to participate in the Corridor ID program, the grantee does not compete for program funding for step two and step three. Instead, funding under the program is dictated by a grantee’s successful completion of a step.”

Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves said the opportunity to secure $500,000 in federal infrastructure funding to help move forward the restoring of passenger rail service to the northwest Florida area is unprecedented.

“Although we can’t guarantee success, we couldn’t let this opportunity pass us by without making every effort to ensure that the city of Pensacola is included in the resurgence of passenger rail travel in the southeast,” Reeves said.

The cities and states where the corridor is located include Atmore, Pensacola, Crestview, Fla., DeFuniak Springs, Fla., Chipley, Fla. and Tallahassee.

Alabama and Florida’s first and second Congressional districts are located in the corridor.

Passenger rail service has been suspended in Atmore since 2005.