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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

New Orleans mulls fall referendum for Public Belt board changes


The New Orleans city council is determining whether to schedule a Nov. 19 referendum so voters can decide on governance changes for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad Co.

Earlier this year, the Louisiana legislature and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu backed a measure to trim the railroad’s board from 16 members serving 16-year terms to nine members, plus the mayor, serving four-year terms. In addition, representatives who live outside New Orleans would be allowed to serve on the board. Landrieu has criticized the board’s current structure because of its large size and lengthy terms.

Due to overlapping state and local laws that govern the board's makeup, a majority of local voters must approve the changes. If the changes are approved, the city council would have to eliminate several inconsistencies in a 107-year-old city ordinance that governs the railroad’s operations, including restrictions on board members’ terms and appointees’ qualifications. The board has recommended a two-term limit.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/20/2011