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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 3:29pm

Winter Weather Changes Rail Debate

The icy roads are keeping most people in the northern half of state still stuck at home. In Atlanta, the only reliable means of travel has been the intercity rail system MARTA. That has one lawmaker stressing the importance of high-speed rail in the state.

The snow event has proven just how car dependent much of the state is.

Senate transportation committee chairman Jeff Mullis says this and the looming increase in gas prices highlights the need for passenger rail in the state.

“Well it appears that the only things that’s reliable is rail so perhaps here in Georgia but in America we need to find ways to enhance our rail activities to connect our bigger cities with high speed rail and have better transit lines in our major metropolitan areas.”

The North Georgia lawmaker is a proponent of a rail-line from Chattanooga to Atlanta. He says the state transportation department continues to devise a state rail plan, but funding is the major issue.

In 2012 people will vote on a penny sales tax to fund projects in their regions. Mullis hopes the local roundtables making the project lists are considering rail.

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