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Alabama governor balks at Amtrak funding

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said she needs more information before the state commits funding to help restore Amtrak train service.

Her comments on Saturday came a day after the project to return passenger train service from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama took a big step forward when officials announced a $33 million federal grant for needed improvements. Amtrak suspended service east of New Orleans after Katrina caused heavy damage in 2006.

Ivey told AL.com that she wants to know what the project’s long-term financial commitments will be after a federal grant is spent. She also wants to understand its impact on the Port of Mobile.

“My administration will be working closely with the city, county, port authority and other entities to make certain that this is truly a win for the people of Alabama,” she said. “We’ll be in a better position to evaluate this after further conversations with these different entities.”

The project is estimated to cost about $66 million. Louisiana and Mississippi have also committed money to it.

Mississippi’s commitment — estimated at more than $15 million — was also announced Friday, AL.com said. Mississippi has four stops on the route, including Gulfport and Biloxi.

In Alabama, Jimmy Lyons, CEO of the Alabama State Port Authority, has long expressed concerns about intersecting Amtrak trains with freight cars in Mobile, according to AL.com.

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