DOT holds off on communter rail decision

Georgia Department of Transportation board members are holding off on a final decision about a commuter rail line from Atlanta to Lovejoy that could eventually be extended to Macon, DOT board member and former state Rep. Larry Walker said today.

The board's intermodal committee, which Walker chairs, met today and discussed the project, but didn't take a vote that had been discussed last month, Walker said.

"We agreed that we would hold off," Walker said. "We've had some indications from the private sector that perhaps we're going to get some different proposals, or enhanced proposals and they've asked us to hold off."

Walker also said he recently visited a metro Atlanta company called American MagLev Technology Inc. to look at a prototype of a magnetic levitation train. He said these trains systems can be built cheaper than other high-speed rail options, and that he expects other committee members to also visit the company.

One of the key complaints about the current commuter train proposal — which would utilize existing traditional rail lines as opposed to a high-speed system — is that it could take more than two hours to get from Macon to Atlanta.

Terry Morris, president of American MagLev, said he hopes to establish a major operation in Georgia to build high-speed trains, whether the state uses the technology or not.

"We do think the world needs more transportation options and we'd like to see the made in Georgia sticker on it," Morris said.

- Travis Fain