Wednesday, February 08, 2017

New Orleans Public Belt for sale

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New Orleans Public Belt for sale New Orleans Public Belt RR

A private operator is being sought for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, which operates more than 100 miles of track connecting to six major railroads in the Crescent City.

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Speculation regarding a sales was confirmed by city, which issued a request for qualifications to solicit interest. It’s looking for a minimum of $20 million in upfront payments, and at least $1 million in annual lease payments.

The proposed 40-year lease could be worth as much as $60 million to the city. The railroad serves the Port of New Orleans and surrounding industrial facilities. It services BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and Amtrak.

The two-phase selection process is expected to conclude by this summer.

According to the terms of the RFQ, the operator would be responsible for capital improvements and maintenance. The lease includes the 790-foot Huey P. Long Bridge crossing the Mississippi River, also owned by the agency.

A sale was earlier backed by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

The agency also wants the private operator to improve business and maintain a "competitive rate structure allowing NOPB and the Port of New Orleans to attract key trade volumes and additional customers."

The solicitation requests short- and long-term growth plans and a proposed plan for making capital improvements.

While the agency spent the past year debating its options ­– including a public-private partnership – the prospect of a sale raised the ire of local trade organizations and maritime interests who feared higher rates and preferential treatment for some users.

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