This short message comes from Knox Ross, former mayor of Pelahatchie, MS and a commissioner on the Southern Rail Commission.
Down here on the Gulf Coast, we are on the precipice of creating the first new passenger rail service in the Deep South in more than half a century. This never would have happened without years of invaluable assistance from Smart Growth America and their Transportation for America program.
Some dreams are so big, so complex, and require so much work over many years, it’s hard to see how they’ll ever become real. That’s how we felt 6-7 years ago when a small group of us were toiling to restore passenger rail service wiped out by Hurricane Katrina way back in 2005.
Where to start on such an enormous undertaking? How could we convince the right people in Washington, DC to support it? Who could transform the federal policy required to make it possible? How would we build support for it both from the ground up and the top down?
We found our way forward with SGA and T4America. They gave us the expertise we needed at every turn, slowly built strong support on Capitol Hill, got us in all the right rooms, and helped create a brand new federal program and then secured funding for it. And now we’re on the cusp of reconnecting New Orleans, LA to Mobile, AL with rail, providing a priceless connection for dozens of small towns and giving millions of people a new affordable way to travel.
Thanks to our work with T4America, other regions are now seeking to emulate our success in rallying people from across the political spectrum to make ambitious new investments in passenger rail. When they come calling to us in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, my advice is simple: Call Transportation for America and Smart Growth America.