The proposed high-speed rail from Charlotte to Atlanta

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Proposed high-speed rail routes
Proposed high-speed rail routes | Photo from Georgia Department of Transportation

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The proposed high-speed rail from Charlotte to Atlanta has been the talk of the town. Last night, Georgia’s Department of Transportation (GDOT) held an open house at County Square to provide additional details on the project and hear public input. 

Here’s what we know about the project so far + some takeaways from last night’s meeting.

The proposed high-speed rail running between Charlotte and Atlanta is a portion of the larger Southeast High Speed Rail Corridorwhich could eventually run from Washington, D.C., through Richmond, VA, Raleigh + Charlotte to Atlanta.

Map of the Southeast Corridor
Map of the Southeast Corridor | Photo from NCDOT.gov

There are three proposed options for the Charlotte-to-Atlanta portion of the high-speed rail network:

💸 Southern Crescent | Would use the existing Amtrak line

  • Cost ~$2-2.3 billion (the cheapest option)
  • Run on diesel
  • Max speed 110 mph
  • Service 900,000-1.2 million people annually
  • Trip would take ~5 hours

🛣️ I-85 corridor | New lines running beside Interstate 85

  • Cost ~$13-$15 billion
  • Run on diesel or electricity
  • Max speed 180 mph
  • Service 5.5 million people annually
  • Trip would take ~2 hours and 45 min.

⏱️ Greenfield corridor | New lines running through Anderson, S.C. and Athens, GA

  • Cost ~$6-8 billion
  • Run on diesel or electricity
  • Max speed 220 mph
  • Service 5.4-6.3 million people annually
  • Trip would take less than 2 hours and 45 min. (the fastest option) 
Proposed high-speed rail routes
Proposed high-speed rail routes | Photo from Georgia Department of Transportation

GDOT created a Tier I Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the proposed rail lines. Information from the DEIS is being shared online and in public open houses. Here are a few of our takeaways from last night’s open house in Greenville:

  • One of the project’s goals is to address population and employment growth. If commuting to Charlotte or Atlanta from Greenville was faster, the impact on our available workforce + job opportunities would be significant.
  • The Revenue/O&M (Operation and Maintenance) cost ratio is worth review. Estimates over a 30-year period would put the Southern Crescent route at a deficit (0.66-0.82). For the other two routes, projected annual revenue is ~2x greater than the projected annual O&M cost.
  • Environmental impact will be significant in decision making. This chart looks at the effect each route would have on categories like noise, parklands, historic resources + socioeconomic justice.  

GDOT is currently asking for public feedback on the project. You can review the Tier 1 DEIS in full here and submit your feedback through this comment form now-Nov. 4. 

Read more about the project’s next steps here + let us know which route you would choose below.

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