Railway to opportunity on the horizon

Published 7:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2022

Some officials of Concordia Parish Police Jury said they remember the glory days when a railway line entered the parish and went through Ferriday.

When that line shut down, it meant a rapid economic decline for the parish. Now a new Railroad Development District seeks to open a new railway to economic development opportunities for Concordia Parish and surrounding areas.

In December, the parish was asked to adopt a new ordinance creating the Northeast Louisiana Railroad Development District.

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This includes the creation of a nine-member board with members appointed by Concordia, East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes. 

Bryant Killen, who is the Deputy Director of the Lake Providence Port Commission, said this new board would act to “promote and encourage the development of rail service running between the parishes.” He also said the new district does not anticipate raising taxes for area residents, because part of their job would be to encourage existing tax dollars to be put into the project from the state and federal governments. Killen said their goal is to follow the old Missouri Pacific rail bed into Ferriday, where a new line would begin leading to Vidalia and possibly cross the Mississippi River into Natchez. New construction in Ferriday, including the new Trinity Medical Center, prevents the line from following its original path.

After careful consideration, the police jury unanimously agreed to it on Monday. 

The creation of this coalition could eventually lead to the creation of a railway joining the parishes, which in turn could provide economic development opportunities and entice new businesses to locate in the area.

This benefits the entire parish and surrounding area, including Adams County, by potentially creating new jobs, adding cash flow to the local economy and by adding more tax dollars to local government coffers.

We’re excited about this new opportunity for future economic growth in our region. What happens in Ferriday and Vidalia also impacts Natchez and Adams County. While led by separate governments split by state lines, we are still one community joined by two bridges.