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Atlanta-Chattanooga high-speed-rail corridor identified

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In partnership with Tennessee, the Georgia DOT has picked three possible routes for high-speed train service

Imagine being able to travel from downtown Atlanta to Chattanooga without getting in a car, sitting in traffic, or paying for an expensive flight — and in just over an hour, too!

That hypothetical could become reality if a proposed maglev (as in magnetic levitation) or steel rail train is built between the two cities, according to The Chattanoogan. Georgia DOT has released the results of a nine-year study, identifying three possible routes for the system.

The study shows that a rail corridor along Interstate 75 would be the least expensive to build, coming in at a cost of approximately $8.76 billion. That proposed line would feature eight stops and could initially handle an expected 11,725 riders daily along the 128-mile route, which would allow for an end-to-end trip in 88 minutes — about half an hour faster than the drive without traffic.

Speeds could reach up to 180 miles per hour, so this hypothetical train must be lingering a while at each stop.

Two potential alternatives include a line veering off to service Rome to the west, or Chatsworth (huh?) to the east. Given the cost, environmental impact, and expected ridership of each line, the I-75 route is considered the preferable option. No surprise there.

In addition to serving the airport and both cities’ downtown areas, the proposal puts stops at two stations in Cobb County — Cumberland Mall/Galleria and Town Center. Other stops would serve Cartersville and Dalton.

Of course, as of now, no real funding sources have been identified. But given the growth along the I-75 corridor and the potential for the system to also serve metro commuters, it could be worth exploring further.