Baker-West Feliciana railroad section up for sale

Economic development officials are hoping the Canadian National Railroad will sell an unused section of rail line between Baker and southern West Feliciana Parish to a buyer who will put it back into operation.

The railroad has about 22 miles of unused track running from a point south of Baker through Zachary and Slaughter. The tracks then turn to the west, crossing La. 964 and U.S. 61, and end at the former Crown Zellerbach paper mill in West Feliciana Parish, West Feliciana Parish Economic Development Director Dennis Manshack said.

The track is known as the Z Line, Manshack said.

It has been inactive for about five years, but Manshack said the current owner of the paper mill, KPAQ Industries, wants the line operating to deliver raw materials, including wood chips and chemicals, to the plant and to transport its products.

Canadian National has sent bid solicitations to parties that have expressed interest in buying the line.

The bids are due March 1 to indicate price, terms and conditions and timing, Manshack told the West Feliciana Parish Economic Development Board on Thursday.

He said three short-line rail companies have expressed interest in the line.

Although KPAQ would be the number one customer on the line, its success may depend on getting other businesses to use it for shipping, Manshack noted.

State Rep. Kenny Havard, R-St. Francisville, said East Feliciana Parish’s economic development district board also is interested in the proposal.

A recent letter from East Feliciana district Chairwoman Bobbie Bourgeois to a Canadian National official says the reactivation of the line is the top economic development priority in her parish.

“We want and need the rail service,” Bourgeois said in the letter.