Columbus may be next city to receive high speed rail - WRBL

Columbus may be next city to receive high speed rail

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COLUMBUS, Ga. -

Columbus may be on track to receive a high speed rail system. The city is partnering with a civil engineering consulting firm on a feasibility study. The HNTB Corporation will evaluate the benefit of a high-speed rail system from Columbus to Atlanta.

The study will look at a number of different factors including route options, how much it will cost and whether people will use it. One of the biggest advocates of the project is Mayor Tomlinson. She's excited and hopeful to be a part of the next big thing in public transportation.

"This has been something bubbling under the surface both here in the region and at the national level," said Tomlinson.

One of the study's goals is to figure out how much high speed rail would cost the city. The mayor says based on systems already in place, they're looking at a 400-500 million dollar price tag.

"400-500 million dollars to go 90 miles is certainly very cost effective," says Mayor Tomlinson. "It's as cost effective as 10 road expansion projects at 1-2 miles a piece."

The mayor says there's been a lot of support for high speed train rails to Columbus. She says most of the opposition she's heard has been because of misconceptions about the project.

"You have some segment of the community who think we're talking about expanding Amtrak, and that's not the case, it's a totally different mechanism," said Tomlinson.

The study will cost $300,000 and will be funded by a state transportation grant and private sector funds, including businesses and stakeholders with an economic interest in high-speed rail.

The travel time from Columbus to Atlanta will depend on what the study finds is the most practical system. The time could vary from 30 minutes to an hour one-way. The study will be completed in late 2013 or early 2014.

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