High-speed rail plans bypass Augusta

Thursday, July 5, 2012 7:37 AM
Last updated 7:41 AM
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No one will be buying tickets anytime soon, but a study has found that a long-term plan to connect high speed passenger rail lines from Atlanta to Jacksonville is economically feasible.

  Morris News Sevice
Morris News Sevice

The study, presented to the Georgia State Transportation Board last month by consultant HNTB, recommended building a high speed rail line from Atlanta to Savannah, and then to Jacksonville. Stations along the route could include Brunswick, Griffin and Macon.

This was one of three routes that GDOT is looking into. The others are Atlanta to Birmingham, and Atlanta to Louisville going through Chattanooga and Nashville.

Augusta was not included in any of the plans.

“Right now we’re looking at which of these three options we can move forward with first,” Georgia DOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg said. “We’ll be looking for partners who want to work with us.”

Those partners are likely to be private companies, Goldberg said.

Construction of the Atlanta to Jacksonville line would cost between $5 billion and $16 billion. The cost will depend on what type of track is chosen. Sharing existing tracks with someone like CSX or Norfolk Southern would be cheaper than building a new track, but the speeds would likely not be as fast as with a line that was built specifically for high speed rail.

Fares between Atlanta and Jacksonville would range between about $120 and $150.

President Barack Obama pushed high speed rail when he came into office. But Florida Gov. Rick Scott refused federal money to build a high speed rail line from Orlando to Tampa.

The issue is now a partisan battle between Republicans, who oppose high speed rail, and Democrats, who argue for it.

Comments (26) Add comment
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Iwannakno
1533
Points
Iwannakno 07/05/12 - 06:44 am
1
1
BUT????
Unpublished

We have a Costco...and a Starbucks plant...no murders in the CBD. How can this be????

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 07/05/12 - 06:49 am
5
7
By the time it happens...

That's okay, by the time it happens we'll be driving levitating cars around. We don't need no stinkin rails.

seenitB4
97737
Points
seenitB4 07/05/12 - 06:50 am
6
1
Air

Wouldn't the air fare be almost the same thing?

rmwardsr
525
Points
rmwardsr 07/05/12 - 06:51 am
6
4
The ticket prices seem a

The ticket prices seem a little unreasonable when driving would be a lot less expensive. Also, one has to worry about arranging transportation once they arrive at their destination, not to mention baggage loading and unloading. Atlanta to Birmingham is only a two hour drive, so why would anyone want to pay exorbitant prices for a rail ticket. The idea of high speed rail is as ancient as the pony express. I'm glad I am a Republican.

ironpurps
212
Points
ironpurps 07/05/12 - 07:09 am
5
3
Prices

I agree with above statement. At those prices, just drive the auto.

Little Lamb
49118
Points
Little Lamb 07/05/12 - 07:14 am
2
6
Birmingham?

I was thinking the same thing about an Atlanta-Birmingham rail line. It's unecessary because it already so easy to drive from Atlanta to Birmingham.

If you are going to build rail lines to connect cities, you should look to connect cities that don't have interstate highway connections. For example:

Brunswick to Macon
Albany to Jacksonville
Augusta to Helen

Let's think outside the box.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 07/05/12 - 07:20 am
2
5
This is the proposed route

This is the proposed route that's been around a few years. Interesting that little Jessup could be a hub of sorts. But maybe one of our Congressmen can jump in like Paul Broun did with I-3 and say we don't want it in Georgia. THAT would be thinking out of the box.

bdouglas
5777
Points
bdouglas 07/05/12 - 07:42 am
5
0
Time is money, folks. You're

Time is money, folks. You're talking about cutting travel time in half or better. Plus, it doesn't mention if those prices are round trip or one way. Yes it's expensive, but your time and frustration with drivers/traffic are worth something, too. High speed rail would not likely entail checked baggage, so that shouldn't be an issue. Flying doesn't even compare when you factor in the time and hassle of security, parking and traversing the airports. The cheapest flight from Jacksonville to Birmingham round trip is $300 and will take you 4 hrs minimum from gate to gate. Factor in another 1-1.5 hours for check-in, parking, walking and security. It doesn't look like a bad alternative at that point.

justthefacts
25072
Points
justthefacts 07/05/12 - 07:39 am
5
0
Helen?

You were kidding right LL. My sarcism detector button battery is low this morning.

justthefacts
25072
Points
justthefacts 07/05/12 - 07:43 am
3
1
bdouglas

bd, I hear you, but honestly, when living in the NE and traveling to Boston, DC, etc, I always chose air over the train. I liked the idea of the train, and it was nice, but air was usually quicker and more efficient.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 07/05/12 - 07:54 am
6
1
JTF, LOL, Helen

How did I let that one slip by? Heh. But I guess that's some kind of central location LL has in mind? Beats me.

Is this supposed to be an Amtrack thing? I thought Amtrack was losing hundreds of millions a year and couldn't be sustained forever? Only money, I know.

dichotomy
37522
Points
dichotomy 07/05/12 - 07:54 am
6
2
Isn't there a high speed rail

Isn't there a high speed rail line in California that nobody is riding?

You can't have true high speed rail unless you lay new tracks.

For safety reasons I would not ride anything claiming to be high speed that runs on existing tracks.

And the cost estimates they give us to prod us to start the project, just like the cost estimates for Obamacare, are never anywhere near the true cost of the project. Look for the true cost to increase as much as 300% or more. The following is from the LA Times concerning the cost of their little venture into high speed rail.

"So, the California High-Speed Rail Authority was wrong. The bullet trains from Anaheim and Los Angeles to San Francisco will not cost $34 billion as originally estimated, or $43 billion as the authority insisted just two years ago, but closer to $100 billion. Critics say the agency's new $98.5-billion estimate is low, and the authority admits it might go as high as $117.6 billion, but for sake of argument call the cost $100 billion."

At the end of the boondoggle the fares are way too high, the number of riders is always much lower than predicted, and when you get where you are going you have the added expense of renting a car or paying taxi-cab fares. High speed rail is a way-too-expensive solution looking for a problem. Take the tax money and fix the Interstates and if private investment wants to build high speed rail let them have at it.

And lastly, is anyone surprised when something bypasses Augusta? Remember, GA didn't even put us on their vistors map one year. We probably wouldn't even have I-20 if it wasn't for Ft. Gordon being located here.

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 07/05/12 - 07:55 am
8
0
The only reason that

The only reason that justifies high speed rail is to be able to move a LOT of people, not to get somewhere faster or cheaper. In a densely populated country which does not have great fast roads and where the citizens do not have two or three cars at their disposal, rail works. Here, they would raise your gas tax to pay for it. Stop the spending.

justthefacts
25072
Points
justthefacts 07/05/12 - 08:11 am
7
0
I-20

If memory serves me, Augusta has I-20 because Carl Sanders owned some land between here and Hotlanta. Or , maybe he bought some at the "right" time. Not sure which.

Riverman1
93839
Points
Riverman1 07/05/12 - 08:14 am
9
1
If Don Cheeks Starts Buying Land

If Don Cheeks starts buying land around here, we'll know the route has been changed.

TParty
6004
Points
TParty 07/05/12 - 08:49 am
7
1
They have trains in Europe

They have trains in Europe connecting cities, and towns. It is amazing. If there was a train from Augusta to Savannah, Atlanta, and Columbia- I would travel much more often for sporting events, concerts, and other special events. I really hope this happens, and Augusta is connected.

justthefacts
25072
Points
justthefacts 07/05/12 - 09:16 am
5
0
Europe is different

The trains in Europe are great. But, they don't have the road/airtravel advantages that we have. Both work.

TParty
6004
Points
TParty 07/05/12 - 09:24 am
3
1
They have roads in Europe.

They have roads in Europe. It's easy to drive from one city to another. There is some difficulty driving inside the cities, because streets are not as wide. Eastern Europe is a different story (Thank you Soviet Russia!).

I found air travel in Europe far superior than what goes on in America, in every category. That's just me though.

grinder48
2057
Points
grinder48 07/05/12 - 09:45 am
1
0
Typical
Unpublished

"High-speed rail plans bypass Augusta" ... typical ...

fhaynes
6
Points
fhaynes 07/05/12 - 09:51 am
4
1
High speed lines do get used...

While I appreciate many folks worry about rail lines getting used - have you been on a train lately? Amtrak is regularly full during peak times. It's darn near impossible to find an empty seat on the high speed Acela line between New York and DC during the morning or evening rush, despite that fact the round trip ticket is equal too or more expensive than a flight.

It's only cheaper to drive now - gas keeps going up and up, and we're not investing in the future. (Face it, gas isn't going to drop down to a $1.50 ever again.)

On the train, you can plug in a laptop, have access to wifi and can work for the duration of your trip (or not, if you prefer). The seats are more comfortable, you don't get a strip search just to get on the train and you can tote as much luggage as you like.

I'm just upset there isn't a line between Columbia and Atlanta.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 07/05/12 - 09:51 am
4
5
Typical Barack. He never

Typical Barack. He never understands business or region. This is not Chicago where traffic congestion is aided by public transportation. Air fare would be cheaper and better transportation. What works in one area is not always a solution to another.

gnatman1102
6
Points
gnatman1102 07/05/12 - 10:51 am
2
1
At those fares, it simply

At those fares, it simply means. "If you build it, they will" not ride it.

Is the federal funding just for building the rail system? What about the trains? Will they be privately owned with rail use on a fee basis? If someone rides to Atlanta or another destination, how will they travel in the destination when they get there? Will the locations served by the high-speed rail have to make improvements in their public transportation system to improve safety and efficiency? Who pays for this?

Americans have been using personal transportation too long, and the US cities are too big and too far apart for it to work. Federal money should be spent on improvements to the existing travel infrastructure before it falls apart to the point no one can go anywhere.

Techfan
6462
Points
Techfan 07/05/12 - 11:03 am
3
0
Acela round trip NY-DC runs

Acela round trip NY-DC runs $80-$169, depending on time of travel. If they can come up with a discount for frequent travel, say for commuters, it may be cost effective and more efficient (considering you can get work done while you travel and the wear and tear/gas on your car).

justthefacts
25072
Points
justthefacts 07/05/12 - 12:00 pm
0
1
issues

First, you have to get to Penn Station. Anyone familiar with the City would avoid that at all costs. Figure an hour, unless you actually live in Manhatten. That is unlikely if you are "commuting" to DC. Time to board, and trip time about 4 hrs. Then you get to deal with Union station.

Southern Leslie
2206
Points
Southern Leslie 07/05/12 - 12:49 pm
1
1
Anyone who thinks rail is
Unpublished

Anyone who thinks rail is cheaper has obviously never tried to book travel on Amtrak. Just go to their website and see that you can fly for half the price.

Southern Leslie
2206
Points
Southern Leslie 07/05/12 - 12:59 pm
1
1
Round trip coach from ATL to
Unpublished

Round trip coach from ATL to NYC

Amtrak: $336
Delta: $256

Well...not quite half the price, but 11+hours in coach on Amtrak don't sound so hot either.

iLove
626
Points
iLove 07/05/12 - 01:19 pm
0
0
cough, cough...
Unpublished

NWO

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 07/05/12 - 01:26 pm
5
0
OK why high speed rail travel

OK. Why high speed rail travel short distances do not work in this country as proposed in this article.

I want to visit my family in GA. I have to drive my car to Augusta to pick up the train. Is parking free and secure? In Atlanta I either have to rent a car or have a family member meet me at the station after traveling some 35 miles. Or I could very simply drive my car over there and just show up.

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 07/05/12 - 01:33 pm
5
0
Considering the state of the

Considering the state of the economies of state and federal governments, I don't think this is the time to spend money remodeling the kitchen.

KSL
144005
Points
KSL 07/05/12 - 01:58 pm
4
1
Wow tparty, think about what

Wow tparty, think about what you are saying. If it were more convenient for you to do so, you would go spend more of your money out of town. So much for supporting the local base.

I was brought up in a small town in GA, 35 miles from Atlanta. The only thing I ever needed and could not buy there was my wedding dress. My father had insisted that we support the local businesses. A year after I needed that dress we moved to Aiken. Aiken population wise was much bigger than my hometown, but I got so tired of hearing "you will have to go to Augusta for that." I wanted to move to Augusta or back home so much. But Aiken grew and changed. The only place I have shopped in Augusta in years is Sam's. And that will be changing soon. The more money you spend locally, the better for your community.

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