Contrary to my snark about the commuter rail to
Hell Macon, I actually support this.
After months of uncertainty, the commuter rail line between downtown Atlanta and suburban Clayton County is back on track and could be ready to pick up its first passengers in two years.
An agreement has been worked out between Norfolk Southern and the state Department of Transportation to run passenger cars on the rail company’s tracks. The DOT board is scheduled to be briefed today on the details.
About $106 million, mostly in federal funds, has been earmarked to build the 26-mile line, which would terminate in the south Clayton community of Lovejoy. It’s set to become the first commuter rail line in Georgia and offer traffic-weary southsiders an alternative to congested freeways.
The project has had a rocky history and appeared in jeopardy several times despite having funding in hand and support of a majority of DOT board members.
I think before focusing on areas so far away, like Macon, we need to be exploring the Metro-Atlanta corridor, like trains from Douglasville, Alpharetta, Duluth, Lawrenceville, etc. There is just no reason to go all the way to Macon right now. Deal with the problems we already have.
Likewise, while I think money could be spent on road upgrades, etc., I think we can only build so many lanes. We should supplement with a rail system and yes, I actually agree with George Will — just as we approach road building as a government enterprise from which no profit will actually be recouped, we should view commuter rail in the same way. It should not be viewed as an enterprise to break even, but one that flows from the natural obligation to support and expand the state’s infrastructure.