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High speed rail could connect Atlanta to Charlotte

8:00 AM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- A study is underway to consider connecting Atlanta to Charlotte through high speed rail.

There are 20 flights a day between the two cities out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and the Georgia Department of Transportation says it's proof the service is in demand.

MAP | See all six proposed routes

Six routes are under consideration: 

1. The Norfolk Southern line is the north-most possibility. It would run through Doraville, Suwanee, Toccoa and Greenville. 

2. The CSX Athens route would go through Lawrenceville and Athens before heading to Charlotte. 

3. The CSX Augusta route would head east before turning north and connect Augusta and Columbia. 

4. The I-85 corridor route will follow I-85 all the way north.

5. The other interstate possibility follows I-20 and then I-77. The route will also go through Augusta and Columbia.

6. Nicknamed the "Greenfield" option, this corridor would allow for a grade separated rail line, something preferred for optimal speed on high speed rail. 

The line would connect to the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor already under construction. That line runs from Washington, D.C. to Charlotte.

The money for the study is covered by a Federal Railroad Administration grant that was matched by GDOT. At this time, there is no money earmarked to pay for building the rail line.

A GDOT spokesman says after the study narrows down where the line should run, the states involved would kick in state funds to match federal money to make the project a reality. The cost would vary greatly depending on where the line runs. 

The public meeting is Tuesday evening from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Suwanee Council Chambers located at 323 Buford Highway. If you can't make the meeting, but want your input included, you can submit it online.

You can learn more about the story by following 11Alive's Julie Wolfe on Twitter @JulieWolfe.

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