The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is preparing a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the general environmental and related impacts of constructing and operating a high-speed ground transportation (HSGT) system between Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) of the US Department of Transportation and in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The goals of the Tier I EIS process are to: 1) examine the regional transportation implications of the project concept; 2) evaluate the modal and technology alternatives available to provide HSGT between the two cities; 3) develop and evaluate location alternatives; and 4) determine the logical segments to be carried forward for detailed evaluation in subsequent (Tier II) environmental documents.
The Atlanta to Chattanooga High Speed Rail Ground Transportation project (Project) is a proposed high speed intercity passenger rail project running the approximately 120 miles between Atlanta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Although not one of FRA’s designated high speed rail corridors, GDOT studied this corridor as part of Georgia’s 1997 Intercity Rail Plan, which recommended further study of the corridor with an emphasis on high-speed service. Subsequently, Congress appropriated $7 million ($5 million from TEA-21 and $2 million from the FY 2004 Consolidated Appropriations) to FHWA to further study the corridor. FHWA transferred those funds to FRA. The Project would provide a competitive and more reliable transportation choice for people traveling between Atlanta and Chattanooga and represents a response to numerous transportation-related needs in the corridor.
FRA is serving as the lead federal agency for the environmental review with GDOT and TDOT as our state partners preparing this draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Initially, FHWA was a Co-Lead Agency, but they have reduced their role to that of Participating Agency. The EIS is a program-level Tier I document looking at general impacts and will support FRA, GDOT and TDOT in making decisions concerning equipment (including train technology), maximum operating speeds, and which alignments and station location options to select for more detailed technical analysis during subsequent preparation of a Tier II project-level environmental document.
On September 20, 2016, FRA signed the Draft EIS, and the Environmental Protection Agency included the Draft EIS in the October 7, 2016 Federal Register Notice of Availability.
For more information on the Project, including dates and locations for the public meetings and instructions on how to submit comments, please visit GDOT’s Project webpage.