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Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor

Environmental Impact Statement

The Federal Railroad Administration, in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), is initiating a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposed Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan. On May 16, 2013, FRA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the EIS. The purpose of the Plan is to help determine future transportation investments of vital importance to all people who live, work, and travel in the Atlanta to Charlotte corridor. The Atlanta to Charlotte corridor is an integral extension of the Southeast High Speed Rail (SEHSR) Corridor*, as designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The SEHSR corridor will ultimately provide important connectivity between Atlanta and Washington, DC, and on to the Northeast Corridor to Boston, Massachusetts. 

The exact termini of alternative corridor routes have not yet been established and will be finalized as a part of the EIS scoping process, which also will address connectivity to proposed and existing passenger rail stations, airports, and other regional transportation services along the corridor. In particular, the project will consider connectivity between the proposed Georgia MultiModal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport  in Atlanta, and between the proposed Charlotte Gateway Station and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. 

There are six potential corridor route alternatives including three shared use alternatives:

  • The Norfolk Southern (NS) railroad corridor (also referred to as the Southern Crescent Corridor route);
  • the CSX Transportation (CSX) rightof way between Atlanta and Chester, SC via Athens, GA and NS rightof way between Chester and Charlotte via Rock hill, SC;
  • the CSX rightof way between Atlanta and Augusta and NS rightof way between Augusta and Charlotte via Columbia;
  • two interstate alternatives: the I-85 corridor and the I-20 and I-77 corridor; and
  • a greenfield corridor that offers the opportunity to define a fully grade-separated route alignment with optimal geometric characteristics for high-speed passenger rail service.

As a part of the study, FRA and GDOT will analyze corridor alternatives, station locations, service technologies including diesel and electrified operations, service frequency and hours of service. Other route alternatives may also be evaluated pending the outcome and identification of additional alternatives from the agency and public scoping meetings.

For more information on the Atlanta to Charlotte project, please visit GDOT's project website at http://dot.ga.gov/AtlantaCharlotteHSR.

* The SEHSR corridor is one of the five original high-speed rail corridors designated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The corridor initially connected Charlotte, NC, Richmond, VA, and Washington, DC. The corridor has been extended over time, and more information can be found on the High Speed Rail Timeline page. The section from Charlotte to Washington, DC was studied in a Tier I EIS, for which FRA and the Federal Highway Administration issued a Record of Decision (ROD) in 2002. FRA, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) are currently working on a Tier II EIS for the Raleigh to Richmond segment. FRA anticipates issuing a ROD for that study in late 2013. FRA and NCDOT are also working on numerous individual Tier II studies for the Charlotte to Raleigh segment. Finally, FRA and DRPT are about to initiate a Tier II study for the Richmond to Washington, DC segment. 

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