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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) late last week released a Tier I combined Final Environmental Impact State and a Record of Decision (FEIS/ROD) for the proposed high-speed passenger-rail system between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The FEIS/ROD marks the completion of the Tier I environmental review process under federal law and documents the FRA's identification of a preferred corridor, which would begin on the east side of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (HJAIA) at the proposed HJAIA/Southern Crescent Station and end at a proposed downtown Chattanooga station, according to an FRA press release.
"This combined FEIS and ROD is a product of nine years' work from FRA and its state partners," said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall. "The administration is working diligently to remove barriers, which slow down the environmental process so that people can get to work rebuilding the nation's infrastructure."
The high-speed project would run about 120 miles along Interstate 75. The chosen corridor includes eight rail stations and would take about 88 minutes to travel from the first to last station along the corridor.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) studied the corridor as part of the state's 1997 intercity rail plan, which recommended further study with a specific emphasis on high-speed rail service.
During the scoping process of the study, GDOT and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) identified 15 unique corridors between Atlanta and Chattanooga. GDOT and TDOT then subjected those corridors to a screening process and ultimately narrowed down three corridors for the FEIS.
The report provides information on train technology, maximum operating speeds and station location options. Decisions on those issues — as well as the exact alignment within the preferred corridor — would be part of a Tier II study under the federal National Environmental Policy Act if additional funding is secured, FRA officials said.