Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Georgia applies for high-speed rail grant

The Georgia Department of Transportation Friday October 2nd applied for $472 million in federal economic stimulus funds to build a high-speed passenger rail line from Atlanta to Macon.

The money would come from the $8 billion nationwide commitment to high-speed rail announced by President Barack Obama last spring.

If the DOT receives the entire $472 million, the funds would cover the project's full capital costs, from tracks and signals to construction of stations along the rout and enough locomotives to support three round trips per day, said Erik Steavens, the DOT's director of inter modal programs. "One of the issues we've had in the past is being able to (obtain) matching (funds), so we've applied for all of the capital costs," says Stevens.

Steavens also said the only additional funding the would be required would be about $10 million a year in operating expenses. he is confident that the General Assembly would come up with the match if the federal government puts up the rest.

Steavans said the DOT expects to find out by the end of the year whether the grant will be approved. and that the unique public-private partnership the stat has entered into with Norfolk Southern Corp. (NYSE:NSC), the freight rail carrier that owns the tracks, should work in the application's favor. "We'll have to see who else applies and what they bring to the table"

Atlanta Business Chronicle

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