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Route chosen for Atlanta-to-Charlotte high-speed rail line, Cobb connection?


For those of us who have followed transportation issues in Georgia, we know that a high-speed rail line from Atlanta to Charlotte has been on the drawing board for years. Plans are now underway by the federal government and the state of Georgia to create a high-speed rail line connecting Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., via Athens.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Georgia Department of Transportation are working in conjunction with North Carolina and South Carolina state transportation departments. Together, they have identified the “preferred corridor,” a 274-mile route from Atlanta to Charlotte for the high-speed rail line that would continue northeast to Washington, D.C. The preliminary review found the route could speed passengers from Atlanta to Charlotte in as little as two hours and six minutes. 

State and federal officials have identified a preferred route for high-speed rail from Atlanta to Charlotte. But don’t expect trains to be rolling anytime soon and there may be a new development occurring out of our view.

SPOTLIGHT was told this week in the Tip Line that a new fly has appeared in the ointment that may have an impact on this moving forward. If true, Cobb County is trying to insert itself into the discussions of this high-speed rail service. SPOTLIGHT has sent an Open Records Request to the County to learn more and get to the bottom of this. Stay tuned.

On July 9, the FRA and the Georgia Department of Transportation released the final version of an initial environmental review of the project, which included a proposal to build the high-speed rail on a new a 274-mile route rail route from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Charlotte’s Gateway station. The route would wind through Athens; Anderson, S.C.; and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. You can see the proposed route on the map above. A preliminary review had identified six possible routes, including three that were later studied in detail. The agencies sought public comment on those alternatives in 2019.

Decisions on the location of stations and operational details would be the subject of a future analysis. A more detailed environmental analysis also is needed. But perhaps the biggest hurdle to hopping on a high-speed trail to Charlotte: no state or federal funding has been identified. The preferred route would cost $6.2 billion to $8.4 billion to build.

President Joe Biden is a big fan of Amtrak. He rode the train almost daily between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware, during his 36 years as a U.S. senator. With his push for infrastructure dollars for the nation, this fat rail plan should gain favorable support as funds are being dispersed.

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