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Thursday, April 7, 2011 - 10:42am

Funds Could Boost Freight Network

Nearly $2.5 billion in new federal transportation money has opened-up, and Georgia’s one of two dozen states bidding for a slice. If Georgia wins some of the cash, the state’s freight transportation network could benefit.

The billions in new money came available when Florida officials cancelled a high speed rail project in their state. So it was thrown-open for competition. More than 90 applications came in from 24 states and the District of Columbia.

The Obama administration says projects that best improve efficiency and spur economic activity along the Northeast Corridor will get money.

Georgia’s asking for $22.5 million to help fund a $38 million project to build a new Amtrak train facility and upgrade train lines in Atlanta.

Jill Goldberg with the Georgia Department of Transportation says right now, freight trains heading through the city have to share Amtrak’s passenger tracks.

“It would allow the Amtrak train to pull off of the main line of the railroad—that would be for safety. And to allow freight trains to continue operating on that line, rather than having to delay freight coming through.”

Goldberg says because of the project’s economic impact for the southeast region, North Carolina and Alabama have signed-on in support.

The existing Amtrak station in Atlanta sits alongside the busy Interstate 75/85 corridor through the city. The station was built in 1908, and officials say it's too small for current capacity and projected growth.