Georgia Rail Passenger Program

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The Georgia Rail Passenger Program (GRPP) is a set of plans, as yet unbuilt, for intercity and commuter rail in the U.S. state of Georgia.

Commuter Routes[edit]

Seven commuter routes were proposed to serve the Atlanta suburbs and nearby cities.

Athens to Atlanta ("Brain Train")[edit]

The Athens route will connect nine of Georgia's colleges and universities, including Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, Emory University, Georgia Gwinnett College, and the University of Georgia. Furthermore, the commuter rail will link the Centers for Disease Control, the new Paul D. Coverdell Center for Biomedical and Health Sciences, as well as the emerging BioScience Corridor along Georgia State Route 316.

The route is estimated to divert 1.8 million drivers from the highways by 2025.[1] As many as 8,000 individuals or more could conceivably use the system every day, and it could remove 5,300 cars daily from already overtaxed roadways during peak travel times. Also, previous studies have indicated that commuter rail is 25 times safer than driving.

The Georgia Brain Train Group is a non-profit organization with the goal to educate the general public about the opportunities surrounding commuter rail. The group is made of community activists, business leaders, and professionals from every county and city along the proposed route. The group is led by self-described entrepreneur, re-developer, and former Georgia state representative Emory Morsberger of the Morsberger Group.[2] Morsberger projects have previously included the revitalization of downtown Lawrenceville.[3]

As currently proposed, the route will cost $383 million as determined by a 2005 estimate. This price projection includes construction, rail stations, and rail cars. While tickets sales alone will not fully fund the $5 million in operating costs, it is important to note that no mass transit system in the United States operates without some form of government subsidies. Transit advocates often interpret transit subsidization as parallel to road building, which is typically totally subsidized, although ongoing operating costs may be lower.

Atlanta to Lovejoy and Macon[edit]

The Atlanta to Macon route was, as of 2006, seen as the first line ready for implementation, primarily because the railroad owner, Norfolk Southern had shown more interest than had CSX, the owner of the Athens line. In addition, the Clayton County Commission had offered to fund much of the operating costs of the line, over $106 million in funding was available from the U.S. Department of Transportation, and environmental assessment had been completed.[4]

Funding Delays[edit]

However, in April 2006, a line was slipped into the state budget forbidding the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) from spending any funds on commuter rail without direct approval from the General Assembly. Rail advocates saw that as a last-minute sabotage of the program, as the General Assembly only meets for 40 days once a year.[5] In addition, the Clayton County Commission in January 2007 withdrew its commitment to fund the operating costs of the line.

Revived Interest in 2008[edit]

There has been revived interest in the Lovejoy line in 2008 and the governor backed it in June.

In January 2008, a delegation of GDOT members visited Philadelphia, and Chicago to see how commuter rail systems in each city was implemented. They also visited the LYNX light rail line in Charlotte.

In early June, that delegation passed a mostly symbolic resolution urging state leaders to pass a transit policy.

In June 2008, under intense pressure from businesses and Atlanta residents along with other politicians, Governor Sonny Perdue backed the Lovejoy line and said he wants it to be pursued aggressively. This may have been partially spurred by a visit the Governor previously had to rep. David Scott's office. David Scott warned that the deadline for acting on the federal dollars runs out soon.[6]

Bremen to Atlanta[edit]

Canton to Atlanta[edit]

This line of rail will run from Canton and connect into the Western & Atlantic line that runs from Atlanta to Acworth, then continue along the Western and Atlantic Railroad through Marietta, Smyrna, Cumberland, Vinings, and then the Bolton district of Atlanta, the Bankhead "West midtown" district of Atlanta (near Georgia Tech), then connect into either midtown via Atlantic Station or continue to Five Points, or both. Outside the city limits of Atlanta along this route, city populations total over 200,000 people if the high-density Cumberland district of Cobb County is included. Additionally, outlying areas would bring even more commuters.

A funding mechanism has been found for build up to Marietta from Atlanta by using future years' revenue from CSX to pay back the initial costs of a quick build-out. [1]

Gainesville to Atlanta[edit]

Intercity Routes[edit]

Routes proposed for intercity transportation include:[7]

External links[edit]

References[edit]