In a setback for supporters hoping to see passenger rail service return to Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey has opted not to commit state money to help reestablish a coastal Amtrak connection.
Ivey had through Wednesday to decide whether the state would make a $5.3 million pledge over the next three years to help restore Amtrak service between Mobile and New Orleans. On Thursday, her office released a statement saying she had opted against it.
That statement read, in full:
“I have carefully evaluated the impact of restoring passenger rail service between Mobile and New Orleans and the potential economic benefits it may produce. As a result of Alabama’s growing economic and global footprint, the Port of Mobile continues to expand, while Alabama achieved a record level of exports in 2017, totaling $21.7 billion. Accordingly, consideration must also be given to the impact passenger rail service will have on the commercial and freight rail service that share the same track. It has become clear to me that, though some economic benefit may be realized by new passenger rail service, such service will have an outsized detrimental impact on other types of rail service.
“As we continue to address congestion on our surface transportation systems, both on our highways and rail system, I currently do not plan to provide limited state resources to passenger rail service. We have higher priority opportunities to address congestion on I-10 through the Mobile River Bridge project, expansion of the Port of Mobile and numerous highway projects around the state.