Six SC routes considered for Atlanta-to-Charlotte passenger rail service

felicia.kitzmiller@shj.comMay 29, 2013 

— Upstate residents will get a chance to comment on a proposed passenger rail system from Atlanta to Charlotte, N.C., during a public hearing next week in Greer.

Six alternative routes through South Carolina have been identified. The Georgia Department of Transportation, which is managing the project for the Federal Railroad Administration, is seeking public comment to narrow the options, said project manager Derrick Cameron.

“It's the very beginning of the environmental process,” Cameron said. “We're basically just beginning to take public input.”

Two potential routes would send the passenger train through Greenville, Spartanburg and Cherokee counties; one along the Interstate 85 corridor and another along the Norfolk Southern Railway currently used by Amtrak. Other routes would flow through Chester, Rock Hill and Columbia.

The hearing will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. June 5 at Greer City Hall.

Cameron said the public involvement process will help the Georgia Transportation Department to reduce the alternative routes to three finalists, and allow the group to move forward with the environmental and feasibility research. He said Georgia representatives want to hear what the costs and benefits would be to communities along the route, potential alternatives and any other information that should be considered when narrowing the possible routes.

“Any comment they might have would be helpful to us,” he said.

Planning and researching for the project began in June 2012 and is expected to conclude in June 2015. The project is funded through a 2010 federal High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grant.

The rail service has the potential to increase mobility between major hubs in the Southeast and ease congestion on crowded highways, Cameron said.

“Interim roadway improvements in the major metropolitan areas of Atlanta and Charlotte, and Greenville, and Spartanburg, S.C., likely will not satisfy long-term capacity and mobility needs for the corridor,” according to the project’s website. “The existing transportation infrastructure is outdated, congested, disconnected and has limited reliable passenger mode choices.”

Other public hearings on the project will be held at 4 p.m. June 4 in Suwanee, Ga., and at 3 p.m. June 6 in Charlotte.

More information on the project can be found at http://dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/rail/AtlantatoCharlotte.

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