"Main Line" Separates Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum From Regular Runs To The Choo Choo

Monday, April 21, 2014

Getting across the "Main Line" has long kept the popular Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum from regular steam train runs downtown to the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

But, with plans underway for a Multimodel Transit Center that would be a city center for all sorts of transportation, officials are taking a new look at how to make it happen for the "Choo Choo City."

Steve Freer, TVRM operations manager, said it would take a tunnel or a bridge across two Norfolk Southern main lines and two CSX main tracks to give the railroad museum clear sailing to downtown.

Otherwise, he said it is difficult to get across the broad set of tracks running under several viaducts and near the National Cemetery and Warner Park.

Mr. Freer said the railroad museum has to call the track operator to seek to get clearance, then wait as long as 45 minutes to get across while waiting for multiple freight trains to pass.

He said, because of the difficulty, the TVRM does not try to negotiate the main line very often.

But if it could find a way to have an unimpeded route, it might become a prime attraction for the new transit center - with regular daily runs to Missionary Ridge and through the historic Civil War tunnel and with weekend excursions to Summerville, Ga., and other points.

Mr. Freer said the tunnel might be more feasible than the bridge, saying there would be a shorter expanse involved. 

He said a possible route would be along the old Belt Line that the railroad museum already uses. It goes past Warner Park and the National Cemetery along Holtzclaw Avenue. He said there was an old Belt Line route that might be revived going along the south end of the National Cemetery.

There would be an at-grade crossing of Central Avenue near Main Street, and then the new tunnel. It would then be just a short distance to the Choo Choo.

One idea is to site the new transit center at the rear of the Choo Choo near the Track 29 music venue and have the design similar to the old Union Station and Car Shed.


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