By Richard Elliot
Could high-speed rail finally be coming to parts of Georgia?
The mayor of Columbus thinks it should, and presented a feasibility study to state lawmakers
Monday showing, she said, that it could be profitable from day one.
“I think for so long, high-speed rail was laboring under these presumptions about being not profitable, being not effective, sort of the old Amtrak model,” said Mayor Teresa Tomlinson.
She presented her study to the Joint Committee on Transit Governance and Finance as it met at Columbus State University.
Tomlinson and other city leaders are proposing a high-speed rail line running along the interstate from Columbus Airport to Newnan to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
She believes the train could make the trek in an hour.
“You’re not talking about diesel engines,” Tomlinson said. “You’re talking about electric engines. You’re talking about running 220 mph.”
But it wouldn’t be cheap.
Tomlinson’s study estimates it could cost about $3.1 billion, or $42 million a mile.
State Rep. Kevin Tanner, who chairs that transit committee, said that cost is exactly why lawmakers have just talked about it for so long.
“One of the reasons we’ve been talking about it so long is that it is extremely expensive, extremely complicated,” Tanner said. “I think it’s something that many outlying cities would like to see. I think it’d be very beneficial to them.”
State Rep. Tom Taylor and other lawmakers are planning a trip to Asia to look at how cities there handle mass transit. He thinks a high-speed rail line could be beneficial.
“It’s expensive,” Taylor said. “A ticket might be $50, $60, $100, but if you had a meeting in Savannah, $100 for a round trip from Atlanta and not have to drive four and a half hours, that’s worth it.”