Supporters of a bullet train between Atlanta, Chattanooga and Nashville want a strategic plan crafted to propel the initiative along.
“We’re learning we need to look at the whole corridor as one,” said Joe Ferguson, who oversees the high-speed train effort for Chattanooga’s Enterprise Center.
Mr. Ferguson said there needs to be a new plan to keep the high-speed rail idea moving, especially as regards funding for planning, environmental studies and eventually construction.
Magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology involves the use of electrically charged magnets that make a train hover over a track and propel it at speeds of 300 mph.
The Enterprise Center is seeking a consultant to help develop the plan, he said, using some of a $1.8 million Tennessee Department of Transportation grant already appropriated. The work would last at least six months, Mr. Ferguson said, and would be “a relatively small project.”
He said there is “a lot of work to do with the people up and down the corridor,” including elected leaders.
Jim Frierson, who directs the Advanced Transportation Technology Institute in the city, said the Atlanta-Chattanooga part of the corridor has been worked more extensively in building political support.
“Chattanooga to Nashville is much more fledgling,” he said.
Mr. Frierson said a change in administration in Washington, D.C., likely will serve as a booster shot for high-speed rail.
He said high-speed rail could address energy security, airline system problems along with high fuel costs.
Mr. Frierson also noted that Chattanooga has been mentioned as a reliever airport for busy Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
Officials have said that while there’s no money to build a train, Chattanooga needs to be ready if funds become available from the federal government or private sector.
A study of the best route for a bullet train between Chattanooga and Nashville along with ridership figures is expected to be released soon, though Mr. Ferguson said preliminary findings indicate an Interstate 24 alignment makes the most sense.
Mr. Ferguson said the next step is to perform an environmental impact study such as that in progress between Chattanooga and Atlanta. He said the $7.9 million EIS study under way between the Chattanooga and Atlanta airports just completed its first full year and has over a year left.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...