GA high-speed rail picks up momentum - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

GA high-speed rail picks up momentum

Press Release

ATLANTA – In a strategic meeting held this past month by members of the newly formed Southeastern High Speed Rail Coalition, key goals and objectives were outlined as the Coalition set forth the current course of high-speed rail in the Southeast.

The Southeast High Speed Rail Coalition consists of transportation leaders from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Consultant States for Passenger Rail Coalition; and recently added, transportation leaders from Louisiana and Mississippi.

Divided into working groups, Coalition members were assigned tasks to: submit a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) application for high-speed rail plans from Charlotte to Atlanta; coordinate with the I-95 Corridor Coalition on a process to develop the Southeastern plan overlay with a template scope and a call to modify the following week; finalize white paper; outline the I95CC template scope and call for modified scope; submit solicitation for a comprehensive state rail plan.

Georgia Department of Transportation Intermodal Director, Erik Steavens said, "We are working at a voracious pace." "This group is committed to establishing high-speed rail connectivity in the Southeast and with so many partners supporting us; the timing is perfect for achieving our goal."

 Of significant importance on the Coalition's agenda was the upcoming High Speed Rail funding application cycle. During a competitive process on March 30, Federal funding for planning and NEPA will be available.  After a discussion about individual state's pursuits, the Southeast High Speed Rail Coalition also discussed joint application opportunities. 

Two items that emerged from the discussions were NEPA for the Atlanta to Charlotte Corridor and an overlay Southeast Regional Rail Plan.  The second is looking at coordinating the state rail plans in the region to ensure consistency of items for freight and passenger perspective. 

A brief discussion of awards that the states in the region won through the American Reinvestment Recovery Act process rounded out the strategy meeting.

The Coalition's next meeting is scheduled for the first week in April. Agenda items will include review of the solicitation by Federal Rail Administration for planning and National Environmental Policy Act funding as well as a discussion of the Coalition's intent to move forward with future joint applications.

The goal of the Southeast High Speed Rail Coalition is to become an advocacy group for joint policy to advance high-speed rail corridors of significance throughout the Southeast.

To learn more about the Southeast High Speed Rail Coalition visit http://www.dot.ga.gov/localgovernment/intermodalprograms/ presentations and photos from the meeting are posted. 

Source: Southeast High Speed Rail Coalition

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