The Biden-Harris Administration has announced $8.2 billion in new funding that could help kickstart the first high-speed rail lines in America’s history as part of 10 major passenger train projects dotted around the country.

According to the White House, one of those high-speed rail lines would zip through Atlanta.

Among other objectives, President Joe Biden’s Investing in America program aims to establish a new planning framework that could result in seven high-speed rail initiatives, or “a pipeline of intercity passenger rail projects ready for future investment,” according to a Friday announcement.   

The Atlanta project would see a high-speed rail corridor to Charlotte, “linking the Southeast and providing connection to Hartsfield-Jackson [Atlanta International] Airport, the busiest airport in the world,” per the White House. It’s part of a slate of rail initiatives federal officials are calling historic.

More broadly, Biden’s administration plans to deliver $66 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to rebuild American infrastructure and become more globally competitive, which it calls the largest investment in passenger rail since Amtrak was created five decades ago.

Example of a high-speed rail line and infrastructure in Europe. Shutterstock

Should the rail program function as proposed, the Atlanta project and others would spur tens of thousands of jobs, allow for much faster travel options between cities, provide more economic opportunities for communities around the country, and reduce emissions by removing millions of vehicles from roads, according to federal officials.

Exactly what route the high-speed rail line would take between Atlanta’s airport and Charlotte hasn’t been specified.

Previous proposals have identified three alternatives, including the Interstate 85 corridor, for the roughly 275-mile route between cities. Using high-speed electric trains capable of reaching 220 mph could cut the roughly four-hour trip in half, with stops at new stations in between, studies have found.

What is known, as Axios Atlanta reports, is that a total of $1.5 million will be used to study the feasibility of three commercial passenger rail routes—branching from Atlanta to Charlotte, Savannah, and Chattanooga and other major Tennessee markets—as U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA)’s office recently specified. Whether the research will lead to actual construction, and when that might happen, remains a question mark.

The Biden Administration identified several projects as being key to its transportation and infrastructure goals. Those include new high-speed rail between California and Nevada (expected to serve more than 11 million passengers annually), another line that would link Los Angeles and San Francisco with speeds up to 220 mph, and upgrades to existing, heavily used rail routes in the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Virginia.


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