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Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEWORLEANS,La. -- State transportation officials confirm that a plan to move a railroad from Jefferson Parish to Orleans has hit a speed bump.

'I've lived here since 1956 when I was born. It hasn't really changed much since we've lived here,' said Mid-City resident Raymond Laque.

'We won't be railroaded' signs dot front yards on Palmyra Street. It is on the block where Laque grew up and still lives.

However, Laque and neighbors worry about a controversial plan to reroute freight trains from Jefferson Parish into Orleans.

'It's to alleviate the traffic on Metairie Road, but I think they could re-route it differently,' Laque said.

State and federal transportation officials are looking at two plans. The Back Belt option would keep trains in Old Metairie, raising tracks and lowering roadways at key crossings. The Middle Belt option would reroute trains expanding tracks into Hollygrove and Mid-City.

Critics worry such a move would threaten nearby parks, historic cemeteries and much more.

'We're worried about how it is going to affect our young people not only today but 20 or 30 years down the line,' said Hollygrove resident Earl Williams.

Residents opposed to the railroad being rerouted into Hollygrove and here in Mid-City say they're worried about their property values dropping and their homes being exposed to hazardous materials.

On Thursday night at least 100 concerned citizens showed up to a meeting hosted by the Coalition United Against the Middlebelt at Esperanza School on South Carrollton Avenue.

'We live in different communities but you notice there are no walls separating us. The same air flows from one community to another,' said Lonnie Hewitt with the Palm Air Neighborhood Association addressing the crowd.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry also attended the meeting and has voiced opposition to the proposed rerouting plan.

'We've already heard that they're talking freight trains in the range of 60-something a day,' Guidry said.

This summer was the deadline for transportation officials to make public an environmental impact study on the plan. According to Louisiana DOTD, the process is now 'on-hold' while it irons out details with the Federal Railroad Administration.

The speed bump is welcome news to Hollygrove homeowner Earl Williams.

'It is good news. It lets us know that our voices are being heard and as a result of that it allows us to feel encouraged,' said Williams.

The DOTDsays it has no timeline on how long the project will be on-hold or when that environmental impact study is expected to be released to the public.

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