Charlotte or Bust?
Last month, the science fiction film “Blade Runner” officially became set in the past. The cult classic, released in 1982, is set in November 2019, and it now joins the list of many sci fi stories to be formerly set in the future. As we catch up to each cinematic future, it’s hard not to be a little disappointed. Where are the flying cars promised in “Back to the Future II” or the deep-space rockets of “2001: A Space Odyssey”? Our smartphones might outshine anything in “Star Trek,” but when it comes to transportation, we’re still stuck in traffic. However, a possible project could propel transportation in the Southeast into the future. But, it comes with a hefty price tag.
The Future of the Southeast High-Speed Rail
The Atlanta to Charlotte Passenger Rail Corridor is a massive project that would create a high-speed rail line between the two cities with various stops along the way. At the moment, there are three possible corridor routes being proposed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
Southern Crescent follows the Norfolk Southern railroad. This route would serve 1.2 million passengers annually and would travel from Atlanta to Charlotte in 5 1/2 hours.
Estimated cost: $2.3 billion
I-85 follows the I-85 interstate. This route would serve up to 5.3 million passengers annually and would make the trip from Atlanta to Charlotte in two hours and 50 minutes.
Estimated cost: $15.4 billion
Greenfield would run south of I-85. The Greenfield corridor is predicted to be the fastest route, making the trip in two hours and six minutes. This corridor would also serve the most people at around 6.3 million passengers per year by 2050.
Estimated cost: $6.2–$8.4 billion
Supporters of the project claim a passenger rail between Altanta and Charlotte would create jobs, reduce air pollution, improve transportation, and bring economic growth to the region. Opponents point to the cost of such a project. At this time, there’s no official plan for the passenger rail to move forward. GDOT took public comments from September–November 2019 and is preparing a final study to select a preferred corridor. We’ll be keeping an eye on this project. Whatever happens will certainly shape the future of Atlanta.