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Guest donaltopablo

Canton to Marietta Rail Line Gains Steam

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I think this is one of the best transit stories in metro Atlanta. Local officials planned the idea and showed so much interest, it seems people are jumping on board to help make this a reality. Still doing studies and planning, but it's exiciting knowing that one area knows the need for this and isn't waiting on the state to plan it over for them. I think this is an excellent example to set for the rest of the metro area.

Study to gauge rail line feasibility


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The idea of a Canton-to-Marietta commuter rail line is picking up momentum and now has money behind it.

Ten governments, including the state of Georgia, have anted up cash for a feasibility study that will look into details of the proposal with an eye toward answering the big question: Can it be done and would a rail line pay for itself?

"It's going to reveal to us a number of things -- riderships, fares, where stations need to be, where we need parking lots or park-and-ride lots. When it's done, we'll have a blueprint to make this a very successful endeavor," said Canton Mayor Cecil Pruett, who brought the idea to state Department of Transportation officials and won their commitment for half the cost of the $40,000 study.

The other half is coming from the cities and counties whose residents presumably would benefit from a train carrying workers and shoppers between their communities: Cherokee and Cobb counties and the cities of Canton, Marietta, Woodstock, Holly Springs, Ball Ground, Nelson and Waleska. The counties and bigger cities chipped in $3,500 apiece, while the smaller towns contributed lesser amounts, down to Waleska's donation of $400, Pruett said.

Canton is the managing partner for the consortium of county and city governments. The contract for the study has been awarded to Georgia Rail Consultants, a group involved with the state in bringing commuter rail to metro Atlanta.

"It's an interesting idea," said Marietta city manager Bill Bruton. "The city has been active in funding rail line studies between Atlanta and the northwest corridor, looking for alternative means of transportation for Mariettans. We are pleased to be able to participate in the study."

The study will look at all aspects of the proposal, including the cost of putting lights and gates at all crossings along the 22-mile route, whether demand for the service is high enough to make it cost-effective, how often trains would run and how passengers would get to and from destination stations.

Pruett said the preliminary estimate of the cost of getting trains rolling between the seats of Cherokee and Cobb counties is $15 million to $16 million, including any needed upgrade of the track, which is owned by the Georgia Northeastern Railroad, a freight-hauling operation.

The Georgia Northeastern Railroad runs from the Elizabeth area of Marietta to Chattanooga. Company officials have said they would agree to allow the passenger rail traffic in exchange for the upgraded track and crossings.

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