- Dave Williams
- Staff Writer – Atlanta Business Chronicle
A commuter rail line linking Atlanta with Griffin, Ga., that appeared to be out of contention for funding through a proposed regional transportation sales tax may get a new life.
The committee of metro-Atlanta mayors and county commissioners that has been assembling a list of highway and transit improvements to submit to voters in 10 counties next year will reconsider the commuter rail project on Wednesday.
An amendment to the $6.1 billion project list proposed by Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell, a member of the regional “roundtable” developing the list, would set aside $350 million to build the rail line.
The roundtable had rejected the Atlanta-to-Griffin line last summer as too expensive. But Bell’s amendment, seconded by Union City, Ga., Mayor Ralph Moore, contends the work could be done for more than $900 million below original estimates by scaling back the scope of the project.
“As the first investment in the corridor between Atlanta and Savannah, this is the only project of significant regional and state impact,” Bell wrote in the form he submitted requesting the amendment. “This will be the only rail investment south of I-20, has strong support in the corridor inside and outside Atlanta, and meets every roundtable criteria.”
Supporters, including commuter rail advocates, complained vigorously when a five-member subcommittee of the roundtable recommended a project list that did not include the commuter rail line.
Under the 2010 state law that established the roundtable process and next year’s referendum, the full 22-member roundtable has until Oct. 15 to finalize the project list that will appear on the ballot.
Bell’s amendment recommends a series of cuts to the list to offset the $350 million that would go to the rail line. The largest would involve reducing the funds that would go toward a planned light rail line from Midtown Atlanta to the Cumberland Mall area by $85.7 million and cutting the proposed Clifton Corridor rail line by $70 million.