The Georgia Transportation Board has voted to implement commuter rail service.
The board directed the Georgia DOT staff to move forward with the multimodal station and the Lovejoy Commuter Rail line April 21.
Intermodal Committee Chairman Larry Walker said, “after visiting three cities, Chicago, Boston and New York, where I was able to see commuter rail play a pivotal role in reducing congestion, I see no other option but for us to move forward.”
“This is a significant move in the right direction and I appreciate Mr. Walker’s willingness to take on this issue and help in moving it forward,” said long time board member and commuter rail advocate Emory McClinton. “We only have to look at population growth, congestion and increasing gas prices to know that we have to stop talking about it and take steps to implement and operate a viable commuter rail system — the Lovejoy line is the beginning of this journey.”
Metro Atlanta voters are also coming to the same conclusion. A recent survey of registered voters in the 11-county metro Atlanta area by the Transit Planning Board showed an overwhelming majority highly favored transit and are supportive of funding strategies that will make expanded regional bus and rail service a reality in the near future.
The survey showed 85 percent believed increased investment in public transportation would strengthen metro Atlanta’s economy, create jobs, reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and fuel consumption; 80 percent agreed that metro Atlanta needed to continue funding road construction, but also needed to spend additional money on new public transportation options and 74 percent agreed that their community needed more transportation options like commuter rail service, light rail, buses and trolleys.
“What is overwhelmingly significant about this survey is that it affirms that the majority of voters in each of our counties are supportive of an expansion of all transportation choices, including transit, available in our region,” said TPB and Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell.
The State Transportation Board’s initial support came on March 24 when its members collectively approved Georgia DOT Commissioner Gena Abraham’s request to develop an Intermodal Programs division that would oversee the planning and operational support for non-highway transportation modes including aviation, rail, public transportation and waterways.
“This newly formed division will elevate the emphasis on non-highway transportation modes to a level equivalent to other existing GDOT divisions,” Abraham said.
The search for the division director began May 3 and will be featured in all national and local transportation trade publications and Web sites.
“I am excited that the board has agreed to proceed with the initial segment of the Atlanta to Macon rail line. While only a first step, this service to Lovejoy will greatly alleviate congestion and provide a stimulus for continued economic growth in the area,” said board member Dana Lemon of the 13th District.