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Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 10:37am

DOT Plots Fast Train Line

State transportation officials have high hopes for high speed rail in Georgia, lines linking Georgia to Jacksonville and to Washington D.C. The state is waiting for federal money to help those goals materialize, but right now what’s furthest along is a route in North Georgia that would link Atlanta to Chattanooga.

Local leaders in Chatsworth and Dalton say it comes down to their two cities as prime candidates for a line that would eventually extend up to Chicago.

DOT officials are currently conducting environmental assessments of the areas.

Dalton transportation planner Zach Montgomery says the fast train line to Dalton is advantageous because it follows Interstate 75.

"The right of way is already owned by the state so they wouldn’t have to do a great deal of right of way acquisition which is very expensive," Montgomery says.

The trouble with that route, however, is the twists and turns on I-75. The train would have to slow down to 80 miles per hour at some points and could only reach 150 m.p.h. tops.

Chatsworth mayor Tyson Haynes says a fast train to his town which lies off the interstate could run at full speed, pushing 220 m.p.h.

"Well one of the advantages of using the rural route would be the system itself could be utilized at the maximum of its speed potential," Haynes says.

Haynes says the Chatsworth route could also handle the 300 plus speeds of the more expensive Maglev train.

The DOT says it could hone in on one of the routes by next Spring.

Don’t expect a speedy ride to Chattanooga anytime soon, however. The earliest Georgia would see the route completed would be 10 years from now.