The Georgia Department of Transportation will hold a meeting later today to get public input about a proposed high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Charlotte.
The meeting is scheduled to take place today from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Suwanee Council Chambers, located at 323 Buford Highway in Suwanee.
Georgia Department of Transportation Spokesperson Natalie Dale said the meeting is to allow officials to hear from the public that would potentially use or be affected by a high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Charlotte.
“We just want to make sure that we are focusing on the correct needs of the corridor,” said Dale. “Those who come to these meetings are welcome to learn more about the project, view those routes, learn the scope of the project and leave their feedback, whether that be positive, whether that be negative, whether they have some concerns should the rail line come close to them, whether they should have concerns if the rail is not close enough to them. If one rail line is chosen over another, would it even be accessible to them, so it is important that they come out and let their voices be heard.”
Meetings are also set for Wednesday in Greer, South Carolina and Thursday in Charlotte.
For those who cannot make a meeting, the Georgia Department of Transportation said all of the information will be available online.
Dale said the website is www.dot.ga.gov/AtlantaCharlotteHSR.
“The exact information that will be presented at the meeting will be available on that website,” said Dale. “Any handouts that are presented at the meeting will be available at that website, as well as an outlet to leave comments or feedback.”
The period for comment on that website will continue through July 4.
Dale said one of the main things that officials are seeking comment on is possible routes for the rail line.
In previous discussions on a high-speed rail corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, Toccoa has been mentioned as a possible stop along the way since the Amtrak Crescent route stops in Atlanta, Charlotte, and Toccoa.
Dale said currently, officials have about six possible routes they are looking at.
After obtaining public comments on those routes and the project, Dale said officials will narrow down the route possibilities.
“After the scoping period, what happens is that our DOT, in conjunction with the FRA, will go back and look at those six lines and evaluate them for cost, evaluate them for ridership, evaluate them for what their benefit will be, evaluate them for environmental impact, and begin to sort of narrow it down a few choice alternatives,” said Dale.
According to Dale, if the public support is there and everything goes as planned, construction on a high-speed rail line from Atlanta to Charlotte could start around the year 2025.
Transportation officials said that an Atlanta to Charlotte rail line would connect to another high-speed line under development from Charlotte to Washington, DC, which in turn would connect to high-speed rail lines already in place in the Northeast.