Atlanta-to-Charlotte high-speed rail not on the fast track

State and federal officials have identified a preferred route for high-speed rail from Atlanta to Charlotte. (Courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation)
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State and federal officials have identified a preferred route for high-speed rail from Atlanta to Charlotte. (Courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation)

State and federal officials have identified a preferred route for high-speed rail from Atlanta to Charlotte. But don’t expect trains to be rolling anytime soon.

On July 9, the Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation released the final version of an initial environmental review of the project, which included a proposal to build high-speed rail on a new a 274-mile route rail route from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport to Charlotte’s Gateway station. The route would wind through Athens; Anderson, S.C.; and Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. You can see the proposed route on the map above.

A preliminary review had identified six possible routes, including three that were later studied in detail. The agencies sought public comment on those alternatives in 2019.

Decisions on the location of stations and operational details would be the subject of a future analysis. A more detailed environmental analysis also is needed.

But perhaps the biggest hurdle to hopping on a high-speed trail to Charlotte: no state or federal funding has been identified. The preferred route would cost $6.2 billion to $8.4 billion to build.

The preliminary review found the route could speed passengers from Atlanta to Charlotte in as little as two hours and six minutes. You can find more information here.