Possible Atlanta to Chattanooga High Speed Rail Routes Identified

Possible Atlanta to Chattanooga High Speed Rail Routes Identified :Three alternative routes for the High Speed Rail (HSR) line between Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee have been identified after years of technical studies (starting with the Intercity Rail Plan in 1997).

On 7 October 2016 the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) released the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the project. The Tier 1 DEIS is a key step in the selection of a corridor for implementing the 110 mile (177 km) railway line.

The introduction of HSR services between Atlanta and Chattanooga is intended to provide a high capacity alternative to roadway and air travel.

With the population between the two cities growing rapidly, according to officials, the Interstate 75 is expected to exceed capacity by 2030. Traffic on alternative routes, including Highways 411, 41 and 27, is also expected to be above capacity within 30 years.

The FRA, GDOT and TDOT have identified three corridor alternatives:

1-I-75 Corridor – Begins on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and follows I-75 north to downtown Chattanooga; 8 potential stations
2-East Corridor – Begins at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and follows I-75 north to Cartersville; continues along existing CSX rail parallel to US 411; continues north along I-75 to downtown Chattanooga; 8 potential stations
3-I-75/Rome Corridor – Begins on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and follows I-75 north to the proposed Cartersville station; follows US-411 to Rome; continues north to downtown Chattanooga; 9 potential stations
The three alternative corridors have been evaluated according to the following parameters:

*Transportation effects: ridership, travel time
*Planning level project costs
*Environmental consequences on key resource areas
*Temporary impacts due to construction

The study shows that the best performing corridor alternative is the I-75. It is the best performing corridor with regards to travel time, capital cost, use of existing transportation corridors, and potential noise and vibration impacts; it also has the lowest potential for impact on known historic resources, streams and floodplains.
Several years ago the Atlanta to Chattanooga corridor was studied as part of GDOT’s Intercity Rail Plan which looked at commuter rail service. The corridor was first considered for HSR service as part of a federal initiative to demonstrate magnetic levitation (MagLev) technology in the United States; the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC, the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency) conducted the study. Two technologies are now being considered for the corridor:

1-Magnetic Levitation (MagLev) – Potential speed over 300 mph (482 kph), average operating speed 185 mph (300 kph)
2-Very High Speed (VHS) Rail – Potential speed 220 mph (350 kph), average operating speed 155 mph (250 kph)

These are the only two technologies currently available that meet the project’s minimum speed requirements. One of the two will be selected during the Tier 2 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Environmental Assessment.
The main public criticisms gathered so far are:

*A high speed connection rail from Atlanta to, for instance, Charlotte or Nashville would be a better investment
*Investment in local public transport (MARTA) would be a higher priority

However, if you step back and look at the bigger picture, the Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor is an extension of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR), which is under development from Charlotte to Washington, D.C.: the extension from Charlotte would travel southeast through portions of South Carolina and into Atlanta. Also, future northbound HSR expansion would connect Atlanta to Chicago via Nashville, Louisville and Indianapolis.
The public comment period closes on 22 November 2016. Public meetings will be held on 15 November 2016 (Atlanta), 16 November 2016 (Chattanooga) and 17 November 216 (Dalton). All public meeting documents can be found here:


Writer: John Carlo Ottaviani

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