Study: High-speed rail plan includes Macon

A new state transportation study says high-speed rail through Macon, potentially connecting to Alabama, Tennessee and Florida, is financially possible.

A study presented Wednesday to the State Transportation Board puts Macon on the line between Atlanta, Savannah and Jacksonville. That line could cost $5 billion to $16.1 billion to build. It would cost $98.5 million to $194.8 million a year to run.

Don’t pack your bags just yet. The study says it would take another 15 years or so to plan and start service.

Jill Goldberg, deputy press secretary for the Department of Transportation, said the next step is to look at environmental impacts. But other concerns loom.

“The question is, where are the funds going to come from, and which one (rail line) is going to move forward first?” she said.

The study contemplates connections between Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala.; Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., to Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.; and the Atlanta-to-Macon-to-Savannah-to-Jacksonville, Fla., line.

The study said those lines are all financially feasible.

If the Jacksonville line is constructed, the state recommends first building the Atlanta-Macon-Savannah stretch, followed by the Savannah-to-Jacksonville leg in a different phase.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.