Feds Providing More Funding for Passenger Rail in Georgia

Dave Williams

Monday, December 11th, 2023

Capitol Beat is a nonprofit news service operated by the Georgia Press Educational Foundation that provides coverage of state government to newspapers throughout Georgia. For more information visit capitol-beat.org.

The Biden administration is stepping up federal funding of three planned intercity passenger rail projects in Georgia.

The Federal Rail Administration has awarded $1.5 million in grants to explore linking Atlanta with Savannah; Charlotte, N.C.; and Chattanooga, Tenn. The grants are part of $8.2 billion in new funding for passenger rail projects announced Thursday.

“Creating new transit options with routes connecting Atlanta to Savannah, Charlotte, Chattanooga, and cities in between would be a boon to our state and economy,” said U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., a member of the Senate Commerce & Transportation Committee.

The money comes from the bipartisan infrastructure spending legislation Congress passed two years ago.

The Atlanta-to-Savannah route – championed by U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga. – would include potential stops in Athens, Augusta, and Macon. The $500,000 grant announced Thursday is in addition to $8 million in congressionally directed spending on the project approved in March of last year.

“Through the bipartisan infrastructure law, Senator Warnock and I are accelerating progress toward passenger rail networks to serve Georgia and the Southeast region,” Ossoff said. “This is a long-term project that will require cooperation and strong execution at all levels of government, but it has the potential to unlock huge gains in mobility and quality of life for Georgians.”

The Atlanta-to-Savannah project is envisioned as a high-speed rail project, as is the planned route between Atlanta and Charlotte. It, too, would include potential stops in Athens and Augusta and would terminate at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The Atlanta-to-Chattanooga passenger rail line, which Warnock has pushed, would continue on to Nashville and Memphis.

About Dave Williams

Dave Williams has covered state government and politics in Georgia since 1999 and for several years before that, covered Georgia’s congressional delegation in Washington, D.C. He began his career in radio news in Florida and Upstate New York.