High-speed rail talk generating excitement in Upstate

Joy Steverson of Greenville said the prospect of a high-speed passenger rail project linking Atlanta with Charlotte with possible stops in Greenville and Greer is “an exciting one.”

Steverson was one of many area residents and local officials who on Wednesday visited Greer City Hall to learn about the proposed Atlanta-Charlotte portion of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.

“A lot of people complain about the cost and that sort of thing, but look at the roads,” she said. “You can’t build your way out of a lot of the traffic congestion. ... We’re getting behind the world in a lot of this infrastructure development. Our roads are giving but. I strongly support it and I’m here to do whatever I can.”

The federally designated high-speed corridor would ultimately connect Charlotte to Washington, D.C., and then connect with the Northeast High Speed Rail Corridor, which connects Washington, D.C. with New York, said Doug Frate, S.C. Department of Transportation deputy secretary for intermodal and freight programs.

If high-speed passenger rail service is found to be feasible, “It provides some degree of modal choice so the traveling public has more of an opportunity to be able to choose what makes the most sense to be able to get from point A to point B, wherever they need to go,” Frate said.

The project’s environmental impact study is scheduled to be completed by June 2015, said Derrick Cameron, Georgia Department of Transportation project manager. If all goes according to plan, passengers could ride by 2025, Cameron said.

The study is funded with federal and Georgia dollars, he said.

Cameron said he has heard positive comments on the proposed project.

“I hate to speculate exactly what it would mean for the community here, but in other parts of the country and, of course around the world, it does provide another form of transportation for the traveling public to take some people off the interstate possibly,” Cameron said. “It could also promote economic growth within reason along the corridor.”

Possible South Carolina corridors identified in a preliminary study were:

Spartanburg, Greer, Greenville and Clemson.

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Fountain Inn area and Anderson.

Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greenville and Anderson.

Rock Hill and Greenwood.

The fifth and sixth possible corridors would pass through or near Rock Hill and Columbia.

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