Media
November 14, 2011
Columbus leaders insist city be on passenger rail line in first segment
Group wants rail between Atlanta and Savannah
Local leaders vow to get city in rail plan
Savannah Group Studies Atlanta Rail Link
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November 1, 2011
Passenger Rail Is Here To Stay!

Our work to bring commuter rail to Georgia paid a dividend totaling
$50,000,000 on the TIA ballot in all three regions of our initial corridor
from Macon to Atlanta. If the ballots pass, this funding can be used to
begin implementing passenger rail in Georgia, both through the direct
investment of TIA funding and by providing the local match to draw down
federally earmarked passenger rail funds for this project totaling at least
$29M for a potential total of $79,250,000. We have much to be grateful for;
without our friends and supporters in Middle Georgia, Three Rivers, and
Atlanta, this would not have happened. Celebration is in order!
Of greatest importance, commuter rail is now part of the vision that
Georgians are considering. Awareness comes first, and our efforts are making
an important impression, of which we can be proud. The relationships,
knowledge, and standing acquired over the past two years is a
recognizable foundation on which we will gather all the elements for
implementation and success.
To recap our roundtable stars:
Atlanta Region: Clayton Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell and Lake City Mayor
Willie Oswalt with great support from the Henry County Chamber of Commerce
carried the water in the Atlanta discussion. Ultimately $20 million was
allocated in the Atlanta region for commuter rail.
Three Rivers Region: The Griffin/Spalding team of Mayor Joanne Todd,
Chairman Eddie Freeman, and many others including Kenny Smith, William
Wilson, Dick Morrow, Anthony Duke, and others including Rep David Knight and
the Barnesville/Lamar County folks. Griffin/Spalding was willing to allocate
all $47 million of their share if Atlanta would be willing to match or
raise; in the end, $3 million was allocated to make certain Three Rivers had
a serious placeholder for the project.
Middle Georgia Region: Macon Mayor Robert Reichert and Bibb County
Commission Chairman Sam Hart worked with Monroe County Commission Chairman
James Vaughn and ultimately allocated $27,000,000 for track upgrades in Bibb
and Monroe counties.  These funds will improve freight movements and will enhance passenger rail in the future.
This was a difficult process with many other voices involved in the
conversation. With Commuter Rail now a serious element of the project lists,
the campaigns are now mobilizing to position the referendum for voter
approval. The Metro Atlanta Chamber is leading the campaign organization in
the Atlanta region. With ambitious fundraising efforts well underway, this
campaign in the south’s largest media market will be intense, expensive,
targeted, and professional.
Eleven individual campaigns in the other regions of Georgia will be the primary
focus of the Georgia Transportation Alliance, an effort organized by the
Georgia Chamber of Commerce. This effort is literally eleven separate
elections which will require a high degree of organization, public opinion
research, and an aggressive voter education effort. Working with local
chambers will be Doug Callaway the newly recruited director of the
Transportation Alliance.
At GPR’s October 26 board meeting there was clear consensus about the
importance of continuing our effort to advance the cause.  We are now
meeting with business, local government and community organizations, to
craft a plan to begin implementation going forward.  The success of our
effort is resonating in other Georgia communities who are inquiring about
how to make rail a part of their future.  Our movement is growing and
getting the attention needed to raise awareness across the state.
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Anti-transit myth #6: Rail transit only serves cities
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October 13, 2011
Rail Makes the List!
Three separate regions connected by a rail line, all included funds for detailed planning of the proposed passenger rail project on their final project lists.  Altogether $50,000,000 could be approved to fund environmental, engineering, intergovernmental agreements and contractual relationships related to the Macon to Atlanta rail line.  The project was nominated by Macon in Middle Georgia, Griffin/Spalding in Three Rivers, and Clayton County in the Atlanta region.  While the project isn’t fully funded for construction, it is enough to advance the idea beyond the talking stage; this is a serious planning and readiness resource, not another study.  In addition, this success has others in Georgia talking about what it takes to unite Georgia as a state.  We have never been closer to making this a reality.  Soon a campaign will emerge to educate and inform voters about this transportation funding option.  Never before has Georgia had this opportunity to make these decisions.
This point in the process has been called the “end of the beginning”.  It could also be called the beginning of a serious new vision for transportation in Georgia!
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21st Century Georgia
Georgia has an extraordinary record of accomplishment over the last half of the 20th century, but we now are at risk of losing our competitive position. Our state was built through leadership, vision and leveraging our geographic and human resources. Georgia must once again think in terms of transformational investments rather than only making incremental improvements to our existing transportation system.
  • Commuter rail from Griffin to Atlanta is the initial spine of a corridor strategy to rebalance regional growth and connect and expand the intellectual and commercial center of the south.  The southern extension of this line to Macon in phase II also will expand freight capacity where it is most needed (Map #1).
  • The current draft investment list places 97% of all transit and 100% of rail projects north of I-20. This inequity has serious implications both for regional development and approval of the T-SPLOST referendum (Map # 2).
  • Adding this project to the TIA investment list will engage south metro voters and will connect the state’s largest employment centers and redevelopment initiatives – Ft McPherson, the Hapeville Ford site redevelopment (Porsche and airport expansion), and Ft. Gillem. (Map # 3)
  • By re-scoping the Griffin line and working with Norfolk Southern, GRTA, and GDOT, cost and risk are significantly reduced, delivery will be expedited, and the Tri Cities area will gain a major re-development initiative (Map #3).  Subsequent phases to Macon, Chattanooga, and Savannah will benefit the entire state, finally unifying the “two Georgias” (Map # 4).
  • The only project with existing federal funding (which $30 million will be lost if the line is not built) commuter rail will connect all of Atlanta’s the transit investments with the most underserved parts of Georgia.  It is an investment that serves the people and interests of the present, fits the lifestyle of the future and is the fastest and most cost effective transit project to deliver.
We have a historic opportunity to bring fundamental and transformational change to Georgia by delivering a project that crosses regional boundaries, creates new development opportunities for multiple communities, is both a transit investment and a commercial industrial development strategy, and is the sole project that meets or exceeds every criteria and goal established in the Transportation Investment Act.
The bane and blessing of the TIA is the involvement of local officials in the project selection process.  This project has broad support from business and local officials along the corridor but suffers a penalty for delivering benefits to multiple counties and regions. GPR has raised funds and built a constituency in seven counties over the past two years.  The circumstances that have prevented a state entity from assuming a leadership role are not institutional, it is the natural outcome of local officials working through the TIA process to make the project selection process fair and balanced.  But now is the time to move beyond purely local concerns and patching problems of the past.  Today is Georgia’s time to act regionally by investing in a long term transportation and economic development project for the future success of the region and state.
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The Telegraph reports “Expert: Commuter Rail Will Drive Development”
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A Message from America 2050:
In our last update, we wrote to you about the Energy & Water Appropriations Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, which contains an amendment that threatens to strip funding away from the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program. That bill will be on the House floor for a vote on Thursday this week and it is critical that your legislators hear from you.
Please call and/or email your Representative and tell him or her to speak out on the House floor against this attack on passenger rail! Click here to download a list of each Member of Congress whose district will lose funding, the approximate jobs lost, and the number and name of the projects that will be halted. You may use this as a resource when reaching out to their offices.
Visit www.StandUpForTrains.org and enter your zip code at the bottom to contact your elected officials. Give their offices a CALL TODAY and send a follow up EMAIL using the website. Then, tell a friend to email their legislators too! Let’s flood these offices with thousands of calls from across the country, demonstrating the widespread support that exists for high-speed and intercity passenger rail!
Even as vital passenger rail projects are creating thousands of new jobs and generating economic growth across the country, these successful programs are under attack. Members of Congress are threatening not only to deny adequate funding for Amtrak and high-speed rail in the next budget, but to take back funding that has already been awarded for the President’s high-speed rail program. We need your help to protect these important investments in America’s future.
The Amendment in the Fiscal Year 2012 House Energy & Water Development Appropriations Bill would rescind all unobligated high-speed rail money that was awarded in the stimulus bill. If the bill is successful in rescinding that funding, the country will lose critical rail projects and jobs, such as Northeast Corridor improvements in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania ($449M), the Harold Interlocking project in Queens, New York ($295M), improvements to the New Haven-Springfield rail corridor in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts ($30M), improvements to the Keystone Corridor in Pennsylvania ($40M), the purchase of Next Generation Passenger Rail Equipment in the Midwest ($268M), the Kalamazoo-Dearborn Service Development in Michigan ($197M), and Initial Central Valley Construction Project in California ($300M).
This week is THE critical time for rail advocates and supporters to contact your legislators and tell them to protect high-speed rail funding in their districts. It is important that Representatives hear from their constituents that they are opposed to losing HSIPR money. TODAY, please call and/or email the members who stand to lose money from this rescission and tell them to speak out against this attack on passenger trains on the House floor!
America 2050 Update
Edited by Petra Todorovich
Director, America 2050
Contact: Petra@rpa.org T: 212-253-5795
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Thanks to all who attended the “All Aboard Social” at the Commerce Club in Atlanta on June 23rd.  Georgians for Passenger Rail had the opportunity to update and thank supporters.  Here are a few photos from the event.
The New York Times recently ran two interesting book reviews related the passenger rail:
Bring Back the Rails! by Tony Judt
Here’s an excerpt:
The future of railways, a morbidly grim topic until very recently, is of more than passing interest. It is also quite promising. The aesthetic insecurities of the first post–World War II decades—the “New Brutalism” that favored and helped expedite the destruction of many of the greatest achievements of nineteenth-century public architecture and town planning—have passed. We are no longer embarrassed by the rococo or neo-Gothic or Beaux Arts excesses of the great railway stations of the industrial age and can see such edifices instead as their designers and contemporaries saw them: as the cathedrals of their age, to be preserved for their sake and for ours.
The Glory of Rails, by Tony Judt
Here’s an excerpt:
Trains are about moving people. But their most visible incarnation, their greatest public monument, was static: the railway station. Railway stations—large terminal stations especially—have been studied for their practical uses and significance: as organizers of space, as innovative means of accumulating and dispatching unprecedented numbers of people. And indeed the huge new city stations in London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Moscow, Bombay, and elsewhere wrought a revolution in the social organization of public space. But they were also of unique importance in the history of architecture and urban design, of city planning and public life.