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Monday, February 7, 2011 - 10:30am

Counties Study High-Speed Rail

Two metro Atlanta communities are using federal grant money to study the possibility of building high-speed rail lines. They're projects that could tie-in to the bigger transit projects already being studied in Georgia.

Last year, the state was awarded $4.1 million in federal money to study its portion of a proposed Macon-to-Atlanta-to-Charlotte line. And analysis of a hoped-for Atlanta to Chattanooga high speed rail line is already underway.

But now Cobb and Gwinnett counties will use nearly $2 million in federal grants won in December to look at expanding their transportation alternatives. Cobb won $1.36 million; Gwinnett $600,000. Each grant is tied to local matching money.

Cobb Department of Transportation director Faye DiMassimo says a possible future light-rail project from Acworth to Atlanta running along US-41 or another corridor could nicely complement the planned major line to Chattanooga.

“It’s able to serve both commuter’s also able to serve local trips. At a different level of speed and a different level of stops and those kinds of things” says DiMassimo. “(The Atlanta to Chattanooga project) is "a different type of trip than what we’re talking about here, but I think they can be very complementary of each other in terms of an overall transportation network.”

DiMassimo says the region and state’s economic development is just as much at stake as simply relieving traffic congestion.