Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr. announced Aug. 9 that the Department applied for $34 million in federal funding to accelerate development of high-speed rail service from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tenn., continuing to Nashville and eventually to Louisville, Ky.
Earlier this summer, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) said states could apply for federal funds under the U.S. High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program created by Congress last year. Funds would be used to plan and implement high-speed service along approved corridors.
“Even before the federal High Speed Rail program was announced last year, Georgia DOT was already planning several related projects such as the Atlanta-Chattanooga High-Speed Ground Transportation Project and the downtown Atlanta Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal,” Smith said. “We expect to fit right in.”
With FRA approval, Georgia DOT, and its partner Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) would continue environmental planning and engineering between Atlanta and Chattanooga, design approved stations along the corridor, and create a comprehensive plan for high-speed service to the public that could one day stretch from Florida to Chicago. TDOT would manage planning along the extension from Chattanooga to Nashville.
Commissioner Smith thanked co-applicant TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely for his strong support, and gave specific credit to Rep. Zach Wamp R-TN, and the Georgia Congressional Delegation. They were instrumental in securing nearly $14 million in federal funds last year for the Atlanta-Chattanooga HSGT Project.
Smith noted that when Wamp leaves Congress at the end of this year, “The South will lose one of its strongest high-speed advocates who has given years of service to the northwest Georgia-southeast Tennessee region.”
Smith also congratulated the State Transportation Board whose members have long advocated for this development.
“We look forward to the day when Georgians have a vibrant range of travel alternatives and can choose to travel in safety and comfort along a beautiful high-speed corridor where no options exist today” Smith said.
The application received written support from key transportation partners, including the Atlanta Regional Commission which will cooperate on livable communities planning, AMTRAK and numerous cities and organizations in Georgia and Tennessee. The Chattanooga Enterprise Center has been a special partner in this endeavor for many years.