The New Orleans Public Belt Railroad has played a vital role in the transportation of freight to and from the Port of New Orleans and the surrounding area for over 110 years. The below timeline gives an overview of how NOPB came to be, the changes over the last century, and where we are now.

Old New Orleans Public Belt Logo


Conception of a New Orleans belt line railroad is discussed. Municipal Affairs Committee wants to provide railroad service to Port of New Orleans areas to encourage commercial development. At this time, individual trunk lines are serving different areas of the riverfront and barges are transporting railcars across the river.


Municipal Affairs Committee proposes the New Orleans Belt Railroad, to be owned and operated by the City of New Orleans. The railroad would provide uniform rail service to the entire area adjacent to the Port and would handle traffic moving via all of the trunk lines reaching the city. The goal is to provide impartial rail service in an efficient and cost-effective way.

First NOPB board in 1904


City of New Orleans Ordinance No. 2683 amends and re-enacts Ordinance No. 147 of August 7, 1900. This new ordinance provides for operation of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to be vested in a Board of Commissioners, composed of the Mayor and sixteen citizen taxpayers of the City. The Commissioners are to be appointed by the Mayor, by and with approval of the City Council, and are to be duly qualified electors, who have resided in New Orleans continuously for a period of five years.


This same ordinance also provides for the $10,000 annual appropriation for acquisition of property and construction of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad to be extended to 1915, a total of fifteen years.

Driving of the Golden Spike in 1905


Actual construction of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad begins.

New Orleans Public Belt Railroad in 1908


Actual operation of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad begins. NOPB owns over twenty miles of track, extending from the Monticello Street to Mandeville Street using one locomotive.



State of Louisiana Constitution sets forth the present-day plan for the control and operation of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad, which is later adopted as a statute by Louisiana Act No. 245 of 1976.

NOPB engine terminal  in 1925


In July, the $400,000 NOPB engine terminal opens for use. It is equipped with an electric turntable and a machine and boiler shop.

Huey P. Long Bridge Construction in 1932


Construction of the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River begins.



First train passes over the new Huey P. Long Bridge.

Baldwins 31-33


First diesel locomotives, Baldwins 31-33. Large (900 HP) Diesel switchers, are purchased for use on the Huey P. Long Bridge. While they don’t work the bridge for very long, they are not retired until 1969.



Texas & Pacific Railway Co. (now Union Pacific) interchange at West Bridge is constructed.



NOPB extends track to Lake Pontchartrain, with construction of France Yard and tracks along both sides of Industrial Canal. Purchase of Locomotives - Numbers 61 & 62.

International Trade Mart Building


NOPB main offices relocate to International Trade Mart Building from Carondelet Street.



NOPB’s new main office building is completed on Tchoupitoulas Street.


House Bill 1949 grants the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad the right to transport overhead train traffic across its network and contract with any railroad to provide this service. BNSF Railway and NOPB work together to move additional railcar traffic through New Orleans.

Cotton Warehouse Yard office


Cotton Warehouse Yard office and car repair facility opens.

St. Claude Viaduct


St. Claude Viaduct deepening is completed, allowing double-stack trains entry onto the New Orleans Public Belt Main Line.

Napoleon Avenue Container Cargo Terminal


Dock Board announces construction of the Napoleon Avenue Container Cargo Terminal.

Hurricane Katrina aftermath


Hurricane Katrina devastates the New Orleans area on August 29, 2005. New Orleans Public Belt crews begin immediately to assess the damage and much of NOPB's equipment and vehicles are used by other agencies for emergency needs and debris removal. The main office building houses a large group of National Guard soldiers from San Diego, California, while they assist in the recovery effort.

Huey P. Long Bridge Construction


The $1.2 billion widening project that will give the bridge six lanes (three one-way, 11 feet wide each lane) with shoulders begins. In July 2013, the widening project of the Huey P. Long Bridge is completed ahead of schedule.

CSX engine


CSXT interchange reopens its main line and yard in New Orleans, restoring the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad's daily interchange service with that railroad. CSXT is the last of NOPB's six Class 1 connections to restore service into New Orleans.

NOPB roundhouse and engine terminal facility


In preparation for the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad's centennial in 2008, renovations begin on the roundhouse and engine terminal facility.



New Orleans Public Belt celebrates 100 years of service to the Port of New Orleans. Engine No. 2008 is dedicated to the centennial with commemorative decals.

Frellsen Junction


NOPB establishes interchange with Kansas City Southern (KCS) at Frellsen Junction, marking the first time NOPB operates outside of Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Frellsen Junction is located in St. Charles Parish.

Cargo and rail terminal


Mayor Mitch Landrieu announces that the Port of New Orleans, the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and the City of New Orleans agree to preliminary terms of a landmark plan that will stimulate economic growth of the Port and local industries by aligning the Public Belt Railroads and its assets under the Port of New Orleans.


The Port of New Orleans agrees to transfer the Governor Nicholls Street and Esplanade Avenue wharves along the Mississippi River to the City in exchange. This transfer will provide contiguous public access to the riverfront from Crescent Park to Spanish Plaza along a spectacular three-mile stretch to be enjoyed by residents and visitors. It also optimizes opportunities for additional planned activities along the riverfront.

2018 Port Logo


Transfer of NOPB to the Port of New Orleans is completed on February 1st, 2018.

Tomeka Bryant 3071 rev cropped


Watson Bryant, who has received industry-wide recognition, becomes the first African American woman to lead a short line railroad in the United States.