The Department of Transportation announced the completion of a Tier 1 study on a high-speed rail line between Chattanooga and Atlanta. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued a press release announcing a completed study that highlighted the preferred route for a high-speed rail line.
"This project will benefit both Atlanta and Chattanooga with more efficient transportation, while also providing rail access to rural communities in the region," said US Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. "This has been a long time in the making and represents a response to numerous transportation needs along the 1-75 corridor."
The proposed high-speed rail line would connect Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport with downtown Chattanooga. Atlanta hosts one of the largest airports in the world that runs near capacity. Under the proposed route, it would take an estimated 88 minutes from one station to the other, further integrating the region into a super economic center. Along the way, the line also connects the Chattanooga airport, a much smaller regional airport with limited air traffic. Chattanooga's airport has struggled to maintain traffic levels that attract more airlines and alternative routes, largely due to its proximity to Atlanta's airport. Chattanooga's airport has plenty of capacity for growth and a high-speed rail line could make it easier for folks in North Metro Atlanta to choose the airport as an alternative. In less than an hour, someone could commute from Marietta to Chattanooga (avoiding the crowds and notorious security lines in Atlanta).
Atlanta is home to over 26 Fortune 1000 companies with over $374 billion in annual revenue, including companies like UPS, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Coke, Invesco, First Data, ICE, and the Southern Company. The city has one of the top research and engineering universities in Georgia Tech and an emerging technology scene.
Metro Chattanooga has around 500,000 people and is an up-and-coming startup and tech community that sports low cost of living and an active lifestyle scene. While few would think of Chattanooga as a major economic power, in recent years the city has made a tremendous comeback in recruiting industry and investment that benefit from being apart of a community with one of the fastest internet speeds in the world. Volkswagen has its US car research and production facilities in Chattanooga; it's home to US Xpress, Covenant Transport, and Kenco; and an emerging FreightTech startup scene.
Chattanooga and Atlanta, both apart of Freight Alley, are major logistics and domestic freight centers, with over 80% of the nation's freight traffic traveling through the region. Earlier this year, FreightWaves featured the region in a special report on the importance of the area in the freight and logistics industries.
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