Sunday, January 31, 2010

High Speed Rail in the South?

The Southern High Speed Rail Corridor has been a point of discussion through out the 1990s and 2000s, but nothing came of it considering Alabama nor Georgia openly funds public transit since both states have bans on using gax tax revenue towards such things.  However, North Carolina and Florida, ironically the only 2 "swing states" in the South, have both struck it big on the Obama administration's stimulus funds for high-speed rail in the South.  North Carolina will get some $545 million in federal funds to improve intrastate rail service among 30 other projects that involves commuter and regional rail between the Charlotte metropolitan area and the Triangle (Raleigh/Durham).  Also the funds will allow quicker service from Charlotte to Washington, D.C., with the Amtrak Piedmont rail line.   Florida will get $1.25 billion in funds to mainly fund a commuter rail between the Tampa Bay area and Daytona Beach, including Greater Orlando.  Also a number of these funds can be used for the SunRail commuter rail system proposed for the Greater Orlando area.  

Georgia fumbled big time with it majority conservative and Republican General Assembly by only getting $750,000 in federal funds to study it for the state.  Whereas, Alabama is still trying to figure out how to put together the economic development and transportation puzzle with the Alabama Department of Economic Development (ADECA) and Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), both needs to merged into one agency like Louisiana where the transportation and development departments are one (LDOTD).  Alabama did get a few funds to do more studying of high-speed rail like Georgia.   Unfortunately, Birmingham and Atlanta will continue to suffer from sprawl and one-tract mindsets of their state leadership since both cities are limited in alternative forms of transportation aside from private automobile (although Metro Atlanta has MARTA, but it is limited to only Fulton and DeKalb counties with limited connections to bus systems in Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton counties). 

The current rail service in the South, mainly the Deep South, is the Amtrak Crescent Line, that goes through Richmond, Greensboro/Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Greenville/Spartanburg, Atlanta, Birmingham, and terminates in New Orleans.  The funds on the table that Alabama and Georgia would upgrade their service allowing a high-speed rail line from Birmingham to Atlanta within 45 minutes. 

This something leaders in these 2 states need to think about and stop being so damn shortsighted about since this portion of the country is increasingly becoming an urbanized belt.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails


Blog Archive