In cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) prepared a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) to evaluate the general environmental and related impacts of constructing and operating a high-speed ground transportation (HSGT) system between Atlanta, GA and Chattanooga, TN.
The Atlanta – Chattanooga HSGT Project (Project) is a proposed high-speed intercity passenger rail project running the approximately 120 miles between Atlanta, GA and Chattanooga, TN. 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 the Federal Highway Administration (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.
Initially, FHWA was a Co-Lead Agency with FRA, but they have reduced their role to that of Participating Agency.
The goals of the Tier I EIS process were 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.
FRA prepared the Final EIS/ROD in accordance with the Council on Environmental Quality’s regulations for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (Pub. L. 112-141), and FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 Federal Register [FR] 28545, May 26, 1999).
On September 12, 2017, FRA issued the Final EIS/ROD for Atlanta – Chattanooga HSGT. The ROD formally selects the I-75 corridor alternative as the preferred alternative and will support FRA, GDOT, and TDOT in making decisions concerning equipment (including train technology) and maximum operating speeds. Any additional study, including Tier II NEPA documentation, is contingent upon additional funding being secured, presumably by GDOT or TDOT.
On August 22, 2007, FRA published a Notice of Intent to produce the EIS, officially starting the EIS process for the Tier I analysis.
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, please visit http://www.dot.ga.gov/IS/Rail/AtlantatoChattanooga.
The U.S. Permitting Dashboard is an online tool for Federal agencies, project sponsors, and interested members of the public to track the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes for large or complex infrastructure projects. The Dashboard is part of a government-wide effort to improve coordination, transparency, and accountability. A link to this project’s page on the Dashboard is below.