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Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - 12:24pm

High Speed Rail Redux

Georgia transportation officials are collecting feedback this month for a study on a high-speed train. It would run between Atlanta and Charlotte. It’s the latest in a string of rail proposals, many of which have been shelved.

Remember the Brain Train? It would connect colleges in Athens with their Atlanta counterparts.

Or how about the commuter line linking Lovejoy with Atlanta?

Neither plan is going anywhere right now.

Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale says there are conflicts with freight rail along the Brain Train line. And in the case of the Lovejoy line:

“We wouldn’t be able to have sufficient funding for future operations of the line so it’s not very helpful to put in a line that you can’t fund the future operations of," she said in a phone interview. "So that project was also put on hold.”

So what’s different now? Dale says the Obama administration has launched a high-speed rail study along the eastern seaboard. That means the feds would be paying for the line.

The Obama administration launched the high-speed rail corridor study, including a Southeastern leg. See the possible routes here.

Significant hurdles remain. And nothing will happen until 2020 at the earliest.

But Catherine Ross, a transportation expert at Georgia Tech, says it’s a start.

“There’s no doubt it has raised the consciousness and the amount of discussion that we are currently seeing around high-speed rail," she said. "There’s no doubt about it. It was dead in the water before his initiative.”

Six routes are under consideration, including one that would go through Athens and two with stops in Augusta.

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