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Monday, October 02, 2017

FRA selects Tenn.-Ga. HSR route

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Rendering of maglev train, one power concept for the proposed Chattanooga-Atlanta high speed rail route. Rendering of maglev train, one power concept for the proposed Chattanooga-Atlanta high speed rail route. Georgia Department of Transportation

The Federal Railroad Administration has chosen a preferred corridor for a proposed high speed rail line connecting Chattanooga, Tenn., and Atlanta.

The FRA’s decision comes as part of the Tier I combined Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD) for the High-Speed Ground Transportation (HSGT) project, and marks the completion of the Tier I environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

“This project will benefit both Atlanta and Chattanooga with more efficient transportation, while also providing rail access to the rural communities in the region,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao, in a statement. “This has been a long time in the making and represents a response to numerous transportation needs along the I-75 corridor.”

The HSGT project would run approximately 120 miles along Interstate 75 and provide what FRA terms “a competitive and more reliable transportation choice for people traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga.”

The corridor includes eight rail stations and is estimated to take 88 minutes of travel time from the first to last station. The route would begin on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) at the proposed HJAIA/Southern Crescent Station and end at a proposed downtown Chattanooga station.

“This combined FEIS and ROD is a product of nine years’ work from FRA and its state partners,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. “The administration is working diligently to remove barriers which slow down the environmental process, so that people can get to work rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) studied the corridor as part of that state’s 1997 Intercity Rail Plan; GDOT and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) later identified 15 corridors between Atlanta and Chattanooga. A screening process ultimately narrowed down three corridors for the FEIS.

The FEIS/ROD provides information on train technology, maximum operating speeds and station location options. However, decisions on these issues, as well as the exact alignment within the preferred corridor, will be part of a Tier II NEPA study, if additional funding is secured.

Below: The Georgia Department of Transportation's corridor map.