ATLANTA — A study is underway to consider connecting Atlanta to Charlotte through high-speed rail.
There are 20 flights a day between the two cities out of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and the Georgia Department of Transportation says that is proof the service is in demand.
Six routes are under consideration:
1. The Norfolk Southern line is the northern-most possibility. It would run through Doraville, Suwanee, Toccoa and Greenville.
2. The CSX Athens route would go through Lawrenceville and Athens before heading to Charlotte.
3. The CSX Augusta route would head east before turning north and connect Augusta and Columbia.
4. The I-85 corridor route will follow I-85 all the way north.
5. The other interstate possibility follows I-20 and then I-77. The route will also go through Augusta and Columbia.
6. Nicknamed the “Greenfield” option, this corridor would allow for a grade-separated rail line, often preferred for optimal speed on high speed rail.
The line would connect to the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor already under construction. That line runs from Washington, D.C. to Charlotte.
The money for the study is covered by a Federal Railroad Administration grant that was matched by GDOT. At this time, there is no money earmarked to pay for building the rail line.
A GDOT spokesman says after the study narrows down where the line should run, the states involved would kick in state funds to match federal money to make the project a reality. The cost would vary greatly depending on where the line runs.