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Nearly $1M earmarked for high-speed rail study

(The Atlanta Business Chronicle posted the following article on its website on November 19.)

ATLANTA -- U.S. Rep. Johnny Isakson has helped secure $750,000 in federal funding to study the feasibility of a high-speed rail infrastructure connecting major southeastern cities to Washington, D.C.

The funding is included in the fiscal 2004 Transportation Appropriations bill.

"The Southeast's population and economic growth demands a robust, cohesive transportation infrastructure," said Sam A. Williams, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce president. "We are grateful to our congressional delegation for including in the current transportation appropriations the funding to jumpstart a high-speed rail corridor connecting the southeast region's major markets."

Isakson helped lead the effort in the U.S. House of Representatives for high-speed rail in the Southeast, while Georgia Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Zell Miller have led the effort in the U.S. Senate.

In addition, the Southeastern Economic Alliance, a coalition of 14 chambers from six southeastern states formed by the Metro Atlanta Chamber, have banded together to advocate for a public-private partnership to invest in high-speed rail. The alliance has developed a business model that would ask the federal government to make the initial investment in infrastructure with a private company assuming the risk and reward of operating high-speed rail. User fees would pay for infrastructure maintenance. The business model proposes a high-speed rail service that would cater to the business traveler, competitive with air trips under 300 miles. The trains will travel an average of at least 85 mph to 90 mph and possibly as high as 125 mph to 130 mph, stopping only in major cities.

"The Southeast has experienced incredible growth in the last two decades," Isakson said. "I am convinced that high-speed rail is an investment that will complement the Southeast's existing transportation infrastructure, reduce congestion on the interstates between the southeast region's economic centers and allow us to increase our competitiveness on a worldwide basis."

Thursday, November 20, 2003

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