City Council Votes To Fund Railroad Study

  • Wednesday, May 13, 2015
  • Gail Perry

The Chattanooga City Council on Tuesday night voted to fund a passenger rail implementation study.

Transportation Department Administrator Blythe Bailey told the council at the planning meeting earlier in the day that cities with rail service have typically conducted feasibility studies prior to establishing this mode of transportation.

He said it might "once again bring the possibility for Chattanoogans to move around by train."  

The city's portion will be $290,000 with the rest coming from a federal grant. The agreement with the consulting firm Cambridge Systematics, Inc., will limit the total cost of the study to $690,000.

The purpose of the study will be to develop a plan for using and supplementing the existing freight rail infrastructure, tracks, tunnels and bridges for a passenger rail transit system in combination with an intracity passenger system, connecting with cities such as Atlanta and Nashville.

In the recent past, Chattanooga has participated in studies that may be relevant to a rail implementation plan. The outcome of these studies will be taken into consideration while the transit analysis is in development. This includes studies such as the multimodal transportation center study, development of form-based code, and the Hamilton County RPA 2040 regional transportation plan among others.

The researchers will be tasked to have public involvement with community outreach programs. They will be responsible for identifying the concerns and issues of elected officials, as well as gauging interest and support from the business community. The study will also address how routes would affect safety response from emergency personnel and the fire and police department. Public meetings will also take place during the year of the study.

Outreach will also extend to existing railroads in the city by coordinating with Norflok Southern, CSX and Hamilton County Rail Authority, to ensure consistency with the railroad’s plans and requirements. Assessing existing conditions of the rail infrastructure will also be done.

Coordination will be required from the local planning agencies including the city of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Chattanooga Regional Planning Agency (RPA), the airport and the businesses in the Enterprise South area.

Options of various types of rail systems will be researched, including Light Rail Transit, streetcars, commuter and intracity rail. Alternative power systems such as electricity for the rail vehicles will be explored. And potential locations will be determined for the location of rail stations. An attempt to connect all modes of transportation that was adopted with the “Complete Streets” ordinance should also be taken into consideration.  

Determining cost estimates and identifying available federal, state and local fund sources will also be done in this study. The system would likely be phased in as money becomes available.

The agreement specifies that the study would begin May 18, and end by May 18, 2016.


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