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Is high-speed rail in Hall’s future? DOT taking public comment on report
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Flowery Branch has voted to close one of its railroad crossings downtown.

Hall County still lies in the possible path of high-speed rail service, and meetings are set this week to allow public comment on the effort.

The Norfolk Southern railroad line that cuts through Hall is one of three “feasible route alternatives” recommended for further study in extending the Southeast High-Speed Rail corridor from Charlotte, N.C., to Atlanta.

In all, six possible routes have been studied based on various factors, including potential travel times, geometry and population served.

The 268-mile Norfolk Southern route was deemed as “good” in its cumulative score, while a 255-mile route using the Interstate 85 corridor was judged “very good” and a 274-mile route going through Athens was considered “best.”

The findings are part of the Alternatives Development Report that’s part of a draft environmental impact statement produced by the Georgia Department of Transportation on behalf of the Federal Railroad Administration.

The document is considered “a major milestone” and the “result of extensive technical analysis and collaboration with agencies and the public,” according to the DOT.

The two agencies are seeking public comment on the statement in public meetings set for Tuesday, Oct. 22, at the DOT offices in Atlanta; Wednesday, Oct. 23, in Greenville, S.C.; and Thursday, Oct. 24, in Charlotte.

High-speed rail proposal

What: Public meeting to present draft environmental report on route alternatives

When: 5:30-8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22. Other meetings being held in Greenville, S.C., and Charlotte, N.C.

Where: Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 W. Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta

Online: Submit comments at surveymonkey.com/r/AtlCha19

The purpose of the overall effort “is to improve intercity passenger travel between Atlanta and Charlotte by expanding the region’s transportation system capacity and improving trip time and reliability through high-speed passenger rail services,” the DOT says.

The corridor “is also an important extension” to a system planned to eventually also connect Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C.

“When complete, it will improve capacity and travel times, provide an alternative to other modes of travel, enhance energy efficiency, promote economic development and increase traveler safety,” the DOT says.

The DOT ultimately will base a decision on feedback and comments from the public and agencies, among other criteria.

The public comment period is open until Nov. 4. Comments may be made in person at one of the public meetings or online at surveymonkey.com/r/AtlCha19.

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