Renewed attention on prospects for High Speed Rail between Atlanta and Savannah

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is emerging as a staunch advocate for high speed rail between Atlanta and Savannah. (Click here for a previous post.)

The two cities are more than 200 miles apart, and there are a few significant cities in between.But anyone who has traveled that long stretch of I-16 from Atlanta to the Georgia coast knows that much of that country is lightly populated.

Despite the disparity in size of the two cities, the advantages of high speed rail travel are pretty obvious. Atlantans could get fast and reasonably inexpensive access to a major tourist destination, while Savannahians would have much easier access to one of the nation’s most important metro areas. The possibilities for business generally and for the creative economy specifically are tremendous. There would be massive benefits to the state’s economy.

To those who say government shouldn’t get involved in rail projects, I’ve got a pretty simple response: The state’s political leaders are pushing a $652 million, government-funded dredging of the Savannah River under the assumption that it will boost commerce in the state. We also expect governments to fund road expansions, repairs, and construction. If you agree that that those are proper roles for government, then it gets difficult to argue against rail.

Anyway, the Savannah Morning News today is re-running Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed dreams of high-speed rail to Savannah; Another decade, another dream by Maria Saporta from the Saporta Report over the weekend. From that piece:

In the past several weeks, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been floating a grand new vision for Georgia — connecting Atlanta and Savannah with high-speed rail.

“We can create a trail of prosperity between those two regions,” Reed said last week during a talk at the Commerce Club. […]

But if Atlanta and Savannah were connected by a modern-day, high-speed train going an average of 200 miles an hour, the coast would be within a 75-minute ride from Atlanta.

Such a train would change the complexion of Georgia — from two Georgias with two different economies to a state with a transportation infrastructure that could help reinforce the notion of Georgia becoming “the logistics hub of the Western hemisphere” in the 21st Century.

High speed rail seems certain to be in America’s future. The corridors designated by the Federal Railroad Administration include both Atlanta and Savannah, but without a direct connection between them.

Even if a rail line linking Savannah and Atlanta is many years or even decades away, now seems a pretty good time to get behind it.

From the Federal Railroad Administration