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Weigh in on high-speed rail route options connecting Atlanta to Charlotte

It’s been discussed for several years, but a proposed high-speed rail from Charlotte to Atlanta may be one step closer to reality after last week’s open house in Greenville hosted by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) that provided additional details on the project.

The Atlanta to Charlotte passenger rail system is part of the larger Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor that could eventually run from Washington, D.C., through Richmond, VA, Raleigh and Charlotte, NC and on to Atlanta. It is designed to address the transportation needs of a growing “Char-lanta” region, including:

  • Population and employment growth
  • Improve regional transportation system connectivity
  • Increase transportation system capacity
  • Improve travel times and reliability
  • Provide an alternative travel mode
  • Traveler safety
  • Improve energy efficiency and air quality
  • Maintain and enhance economic growth and vitality

The environmental impacts of three corridor alternatives have been evaluated by the Georgia DOT and now are being presented for public comment at open houses and online. The options are:

  • Southern Crescent. Follows the Norfolk Southern railroad corridor that hosts the existing Amtrak Crescent long-distance service between Charlotte and Atlanta
  • I-85. Follows the Interstate 85 right of way between Gastonia, NC and Suwanee, and transitioning to existing railroad rights of way in the approaches to the Atlanta and Charlotte, NC termini
  • Greenfield. Development of a new “greenfield” high-speed rail corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte and transitioning to existing railroad rights of way in the approaches to the Atlanta and Charlotte termini

Depending on which of three potential routes is selected, construction of the project that would be completed in 2050 could cost anywhere from $2 billion to $15.4 billion, according the Georgia DOT analysis. And travel times could range from a little more than two hours to more than five.

Still in its early stages, transportation officials in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are hosting open house meetings to gauge public interest in the high-speed rail project and gather comments and suggestions. GDOT will accept public comments until November 4, 2019. The public can review materials online and make comments here.

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