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Augusta interested as Georgia looks at rail expansion

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 2:33 PM
Last updated Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:38 AM
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ATLANTA -- The last time the Department of Transportation produced the State Rail Plan in 2009, it acknowledged there were more local efforts going on than it could include.

Now the department is preparing an update, and it’s looking for public input.

And various groups are already prepared to offer their vision of what the new plan should include.

“The Augusta Metro Chamber is always looking at ways to keep our area better connected using any available mode of transportation as such links are critical to our continued growth and prosperity,” said Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber has engaged with the Georgia Department of Transportation to express our interest in seeing that all possible high-speed rail links are fully evaluated and hope that as these plans develop Augusta can be a part of future growth.”

Some comments will be looking at how rail intersects with other forms of travel.

“What I would like to see in the Georgia DOT’s updated rail plan is a commitment to follow-through, particularly in the areas of safety and infrastructure,” said Joe Severns, marketing director for Grassroots Motorsports. “... In addition, I believe a more aggressive strategy should be employed in expanding passenger and intermodal rail business in South Georgia. Access to ports, major Interstates and raw materials necessitates a stronger connection to the super-regional hub of Atlanta.”

The state’s largest economic sector, farming, also has some ideas, according to Bryan Tolar, president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

“With Georgia being a net exporter, especially of farm products, we need to ensure improvements to our rail system include necessary logistics for moving these Georgia-grown goods into the world market,” he said. “A strong, effective infrastructure is key to our national and global competitiveness.”

The Transportation Department is accepting public comments and hosting three public hearings this month in Dalton, Atlanta and Valdosta. A second round of meetings will occur in August, but those dates and places haven’t been announced.

CONTACTS

Please send your questions and comments to the following:

Harry Boxler, AICP

Rail Planner, Division of Intermodal

Georgia Department of Transportation

600 West Peachtree Street, NW

Atlanta, GA 30308

(404) 631-1225

hboxler@dot.ga.gov

SCHEDULE

All meetings are from 5-7 pm with a short presentation starting at 5:30 pm.

• April 15, 2014: Dalton City Hall, 300 W. Waugh St., Dalton;

• April 16, 2014: Atlanta Regional Commission, 40 Courtland St., Atlanta and

• April 17, 2014: Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 N. Lee St., Valdosta.

Comments (22) Add comment
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TrulyWorried
14536
Points
TrulyWorried 04/09/14 - 05:51 pm
5
0
Rail expansion

AROUND Augusta - no more railroad delays in downtown Augusta, no more tracks that shake the liver out of drivers?

Fiat_Lux
15693
Points
Fiat_Lux 04/09/14 - 06:57 pm
7
2
Passenger rail service to Augusta would be WONDERFUL!

Not being tied to airlines or I-20 to get anywhere East, West and North would be a real boon to us. Day trips to Atlanta or Columbia or Charlotte would be so much more doable and pleasant.

I love traveling by train.

KSL
131325
Points
KSL 04/09/14 - 08:04 pm
2
1
I do too.

I do too.

KSL
131325
Points
KSL 04/09/14 - 08:08 pm
2
1
It may not have been my first

It may not have been my first train ride, but I have memories at 2+ of one from Atlanta to NYC. Not everything about ir, of course.

augusta citizen
9474
Points
augusta citizen 04/09/14 - 11:52 pm
4
2
Passenger rail service to Augusta?

Who would pay for that? Good grief, would it be fun and dandy? Sure, but who would pay for that, oh never mind, us taxpayers.

dickworth1
954
Points
dickworth1 04/10/14 - 05:15 am
5
1
taxpayers
Unpublished

While I agree taxpayers are footing the bill, whether Augusta or Columbus or anywhere else in the state gets rail service, you as a taxpayer will foot the bill, so why not reap some benefits from your taxes and build it in Augusta, because I promise you whether it is here or somewhere else in Ga. you will pay for it.

Truth Matters
6986
Points
Truth Matters 04/10/14 - 06:02 am
1
2
I thank God for the visionary

I thank God for the visionary named Ike nearly every time I travel an interstate and see the blue sign denoting the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System. I am sure he had some detractors, but had it been left to some we would be riding a horse and buggy to anywhere.

Rail service...bring it on.

geecheeriverman
2743
Points
geecheeriverman 04/10/14 - 06:03 am
2
0
Pay the bill

Taxpayers will pay the bill. Some politicians pal will do a study for many $$$$$$$. Another politicians buddy will do the engineering for many $$$$$$$. Another politicians buddy will do the survey work for many $$$$$$$. Another politicians buddy will get the contract for many$$$$$$. Then after several delays costing many $$$$$$, the politician and his pals start the process all over again costing many $$$$$$. I could go on and on but I dare not repeat myself.

corgimom
33199
Points
corgimom 04/10/14 - 07:15 am
2
2
Truth Matters, he got the

Truth Matters, he got the idea from the German autobahns- which were built by Hitler, to rapidly move troops and military vehicles through Germany.

And it was built for the same reason here, as part of our national defense.

The freeways were built so that planes could be landed on them if necessary, in case airports and military air strips were destroyed.

So I guess you'd have to say the visionary was Hitler.

Fairman
5
Points
Fairman 04/10/14 - 07:58 am
1
0
Railroad expansion

Savannah to Augusta to Athens to Atlanta Marta would make sense for business, shopping and sport events.

GuyGene
1316
Points
GuyGene 04/10/14 - 08:15 am
1
0
Wha' effect on airport?

Just wondering... So many ads about Augusta airport, expansion recently, etc., if there were fast train service to Atlanta Airport, I wonder about Augusta airport? Doesn't the city control the Augusta airport? There will probably be some controversy because of the negative effect on airport.

localguy55
5477
Points
localguy55 04/10/14 - 08:39 am
3
0
Sounds so romantic and fun

Sounds so romantic and fun but let's not fool ourselves into supporting a boondoggle such as a lite-rail intermodal system. It's not a subway system, and it is money wasted.

A rail system of this kind for the purpose of moving people and paid for by the tax payer will never be able to support itself. Look at Amtrak and any other public rail system world wide and you will see that ALL are subsidized. None support themselves.

So, how are you going to get to the rail station? It's not coming to your door step. So, you need further transportation.

When you arrive to your general destination what will you do then? It's not going to take you to where you are ultimately going. So, you need further transportation.

Bad, Bad idea. This country and our communities were never designed for mass railroad transportation without the additional use of other transportation devices, even during the days of the the horse and buggy.

So, unless you like paying for this craziness forever with higher taxes, I say no way Jose'.

itsanotherday1
43814
Points
itsanotherday1 04/10/14 - 08:45 am
2
0
I would guess that the impact

I would guess that the impact on Augusta's airport would be minimal. By the time you pay for train fare, cost difference would be negligible; plus you have the added travel time to get there. So now, you have very little time savings, very little cost savings; but most of all, the Augusta airport is a breeze to get parked and checked in. That alone is worth extra cost for me.

itsanotherday1
43814
Points
itsanotherday1 04/10/14 - 08:46 am
1
0
Good points Localguy.

Good points Localguy.

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 08:58 am
2
0
Augusta Legislators Should Fight The Concept

The rail proposals by GDOT until 2040 consist of the Atlanta-Macon corridor, Atlanta-Athens corridor and updates for the Atlanta Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT. In addition under President Obama’s 2009 initiative High-Speed Rail (HSR) was deemed a national priority that will receive federal funding. Augusta is NOT on the proposed routes. In our lifetimes Augusta is out of the picture. By the time Augusta is hooked up to the system automatically driven chain buses or some other innovation will be the case.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 10:43 am
0
0
Not enough density
Unpublished

There is simply not enough high density population corridors in The South to support comprehensive rail. The only lines I could see working is the I85 corridor running from northeast from Atlanta. But then Amtrak already runs this route.
Rail works in the Northeast because you have a corridors of of very high density population centers, the southeast does not. I-20 is not a high density corridor, so passenger rail route coming thru Augusta would not be economically practical.

itsanotherday1
43814
Points
itsanotherday1 04/10/14 - 11:16 am
1
0
"Rail works in the Northeast

"Rail works in the Northeast because you have a corridors of of very high density population centers,"

That is exactly why it works well in Europe and highly populated Asian countries. And as someone pointed out above; those places also have the underlying public transit structure to get you to and from the train.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 11:25 am
1
0
exactly!
Unpublished

itsanotherday, you are exactly right. I love trains, but rail is just not practical in the southeast aside from a few corridors, none of which include Augusta. About the only part of the southeast that has high enough density to support rail would be south Florida. And you are right, the cities that are connected need to have good public transit in their own right to make it practical. Augusta barely has a functioning bus system and it is very pedestrian unfriendly.. so you would take a train here and then have to rent a car to just get around. Why bother with the train? Just drive.

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 11:54 am
3
0
Where Rail Works

Well, you just know they will build the terminal downtown in Augusta, probably close to Laney Walker to appease the politicians. Get off a train in downtown Augusta and you are where?

As Butterman and IAD are saying rail works well in Europe because the population centers are not that far apart. In addition, cities are concentrated around an urban downtown center unlike most American cities. Get off the train in an European city and you are where you want to be. Here or in Atlanta, etc. you more than likely still need other transportation to reach your target which could be 20 miles out in South Augusta.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 12:40 pm
0
0
Busses
Unpublished

Why not just run shuttle busses from Augusta to Atlanta? You are seeing this a lot in the Northeast and Midwest, as they are a lower cost alternative to trains, and the travel times are about the same. I took a shuttle bus from Philly to NYC and cost only $15 each way, made no in between stops and had free wifi. It took about the same time to arrive at Penn Station than if I had taken Amtrak but was about 1/3 the cost. That is because there are multiple competing bus companies running these routes and competition brings down price. Rail would be a monopoly and thus prices not competitive to other forms of travel. I say they money would be better spent in Augusta improving the local public transit system. Make it easier to get around Augusta first without a car and then trains might be more feasible.

bigj706
1192
Points
bigj706 04/10/14 - 01:23 pm
1
2
I would love to have a train

I would love to have a train here to go directly to ATL or other places. people asking about what about the airport Not MY Problem Buddy!! That's theirs anything that could improve the area I cant believe how many fuddy duddys complain Hey visitors welcome to Fuddy Cruddy ville where everyone complains every single second!!

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 03:56 pm
2
0
Bigj706, sure it sounds great

Bigj706 (and others), sure it sounds great to think of Augusta having a rail connection, but when you look into things you see it's not so easy or cost efficient. We are on no lists for projects is the truth. The money will go to other cities.

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 03:54 pm
1
0
I Thought We Already Had An Amtrak Connection

I remember the Chronicle story of how Augusta had an Amtrak connection when a bus route to the nearest Amtrak station was initiated. I think one bus went to Denmark, SC and another one to the stop near Savannah. A photo had the Mayor out by a Greyhound Bus smiling. Heh, heh, heh.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 03:55 pm
1
0
Not enough passengers
Unpublished

There used to be passenger train service between Augusta and Atlanta during the 1960s and early 70s. It was called The Cannonball Express I believe. It ceased service because costs were too high and there were not enough passengers. It was quicker to take I-20. There is simply not enough passenger volume to justify this.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 03:58 pm
1
0
Amtrak
Unpublished

Riverman, the closest Amtrak service is in Columbia, SC and Denmark, SC. I have found flying to be about the same price as taking the train. Also the times when the trains arrive and depart out of Columbia and Denmark are very inconvenient. We are talking like 2am.

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 04:00 pm
0
0
Butterman, yep, again, trains

Butterman, yep, again, trains in the northeast or Europe deposit their passengers in the downtown city area where they want to be. In most of the USA, the business concerns of the cities are NOT downtown. No different here.

Butterman
3680
Points
Butterman 04/10/14 - 04:15 pm
0
0
Charleston and Savannah
Unpublished

are tourist destinations with bustling downtowns.. I could certainly see trains depositing passengers off in those to cities in The South.

localguy55
5477
Points
localguy55 04/10/14 - 04:54 pm
1
0
Butters

look at Amtrak and the other rails in other countries that can not sustain themselves. Butters, you are not looking at the practical and economic picture.

A lite rail service will be am ultimate pain in the $%^ from beginning to the end where it is shut down due to budget restraints.

Talk to Kyle, he'll tell you....

Riverman1
84930
Points
Riverman1 04/10/14 - 04:55 pm
1
0
Butterman, I don't know.

Butterman, I don't know. Charleston has visitors to the gardens out on Hwy 61 and the beaches the other way. There's also the business traffic out to North Charleston. So I just don't see it.

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