Railroad line could offer commuters another way home - CBS46 News

Railroad line could offer commuters another way home

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

An almost invisible railroad line through downtown Atlanta could offer commuters another way home. The expiring lease on the train track is getting famously transit-shy Cobb County politicians involved.

But there's a rough crossing ahead.

Who pays attention to the railroad that built Atlanta? The state built the tracks and Atlanta grew up around them. Now the state property is up for a new lease and perhaps a new life.

Mixing freight and passenger trains on the same track could be a political train wreck, or a commuter solution.

"This is where passengers came in from Marietta, Kennesaw, where they could come in again. Why do I think they would? It's so convenient to get out of traffic and avoid jams," says Lee Biola with Citizens for Progressive Transit.

Biota is pushing for better outcomes with public property and money. Georgia owns the track from downtown Atlanta to Marietta and for 30 years it has been leased for freight-only to CSX.

Biola says to share the public track. But Benita Dodd says nonsense.

"I don't think commuter rail is going anywhere," says Dodd.

The Public Policy Foundation think tank leader says transit no longer works well, saying that transit ridership has gone down in Georgia and that we need to look at alternatives.

She offers another potent reason not to mess with railroad freight. 

"If we don't prioritize the freight on that line, we are going to have the freight on the road," says Dodd.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has two years to get the bugs out, says powerful Cobb County Senator Lindsay Tippens.

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