One brick does not a wall make, but some bricks are more important than others.
In Georgia’s hot-then-cold pursuit of passenger rail, the missing item has been the working experiment – a short but substantial, inter-city line that could help us determine what is possible and what is pipedream.
Several weeks ago, a Norfolk Southern executive wrote a letter to Todd Long, planning director for the state Department of Transportation.
If voters in three transportation regions approve the measure next year, the railroad company is ready to sit down with the state and negotiate a passenger rail service between Macon and Atlanta, according to the March 29 letter.
Click here for a letterhead copy. But this is the content of the message from Joel Harrell, resident vice president for Norfolk Southern, to Long:
As you are aware, over the past 10+ years there has been much interest in the use of Norfolk Southern’s “S” line between Macon and Atlanta for development of passenger rail service. This corridor goes through the counties of Fulton, Clayton, Henry, Spalding, Lamar, Monroe, and Bibb. There is capacity on this line to allow for passenger rail service and Norfolk Southern has worked as a supportive partner in investigating this plan for passenger rail through the years.
If the Regional Roundtables, organized under the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, determine that this line should be on the project list, and if voters approve the referendum, Norfolk Southern pledges our continuing support to work through the details to allow passenger rail along this corridor.
Clearly if the project is supported by the three regional roundtables, it will be appropriate for state leadership to become involved in making decisions about the service and operations. Please feel free to contact me, at the appropriate time, to facilitate further discussions with the appropriate persons within Norfolk Southern on the issues passenger rail along our “S” line between Atlanta and Macon.
That the letter is coming out now means that you’re about to hear much more about a Macon-Atlanta rail line.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider