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Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

METAIRIE, La. -- Railroad planners are now considering a proposal to move trains from the tony Jefferson Parish neighborhood of Old Metairie to existing tracks in the economically challenged Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans.

Traffic backups at the railroad crossing on Metaire Road are as much a part of Old Metairie as Langenstein's Grocery and St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.

'Pretty much everyday,' said one driver sitting at the tracks. 'More than once a day.'

'Almost a half an hour I've been waiting,' said another driver dressed in costume for a Halloween luncheon.

Another driver said he fights the frequent train delays everyday when he drives his girlfriend to work.

'It's pretty hectic and it's aggravating and they need to find, I don't know, switch it up or something,' he said.

The plan now under consideration would re-route the tracks that run through Old Metairie to a parallel set of rails that run along Airline Highway, through the Hollygrove.

Jefferson Parish President John Young supports the idea.

'You're taking out eight intersections and you're taking out a railroad on the most heavily traveled two-lane state roadway in the state,' said Young.

Young also said the change would be good for business by eliminating choke points along the rails and speeding up the time it takes to get cargo in and out of the Port of New Orleans.

'It takes almost as much time to get through metropolitan New Orleans for rail than it takes to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific,' said Young.

Hollygrove neighbors say they don't want additional trains moving through their neighborhood.

'I guess they figured it doesn't matter because this is the lower class of people or whatever,' said Gwendelle Wilmore.

'Old Metairie, they've dealing with that, now why all of a sudden, now they figure, oh these poor black folks, they can't do nothing about anything, so we're going to just do it to them,' said Louella D. Hill.

'Now you want to run more trains in just this part of town, I don't think that's wise at all,' said Bernard Breaux. 'Refurbish the neighborhood. Don't crowd it with trains and locomotives.'

Despite the criticism, Young said moving the tracks would actually benefit New Orleans, by eliminating the need for trains to run through City Park.

Young said you could even take out the the Mounds Underpass on I-10, which often fills up with water during heavy storms and hurricanes.

'There's benefits to both New Orleans and Jefferson and there's some disadvantages to both New Orleans and Jefferson,' said Young. 'But, at the end of the day, it's a win-win for the entire metropolitan area.'

If planners chose to re-route the train traffic, it won't be anytime soon.

An environmental study is expected to take another year-and-a-half.

Then there's the matter of having to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to make the move.

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