Chattanooga, Tenn. (Sept. 15, 2014): Last Friday, Sept. 12, 2014, the United States Department of Transportation announced Chattanooga as a recipient of a $400,000 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant to study the potential use of existing railways for a Passenger Rail system in Chattanooga. There were 72 awards announced in 46 states and DC. Out of numerous grant applications across Tennessee, the study of a potential passenger rail system in Chattanooga was the only TIGER awarded grant in the State.
“By studying the feasibility of a passenger rail project, we are taking an important first step,” said Mayor Andy Berke. “Passenger rail service would make travel to the airport and Enterprise South more convenient as well as connect our most disadvantaged neighborhoods to jobs, classrooms, grocery stores and healthcare facilities. By putting our railroads back to use, we could create an incredible impact in our community and increase the quality of life of our citizens.”
The Passenger Rail study will evaluate the feasibility of using an existing 21-mile freight rail facility for passenger service. The plan will also look at an implementation strategy for a 23-mile long passenger rail system in the city. Repurposing this infrastructure for passenger rail would enhance rail and transit access in downtown Chattanooga and create more transportation options to the growing jobs centers. The study will also include demand, route options, and fare structure.
“I was proud to work with the Mayor’s office in earning this grant and am confident a passenger rail option would allow us to utilize existing rail infrastructure and provide transportation options to residents throughout the city,”said Congressman Chuck Fleischmann.
If the study finds a future rail project is viable, the City states passenger rail service could result in “good repair benefits for the existing freight rail infrastructure, while simultaneously expanding transportation options for passenger travel. The project would complement ongoing plans to revitalize the city through transit-oriented development, enhancing the city’s efforts to improve air quality by transforming to a more pedestrian- and transit-friendly community. The project would plan for a new station in downtown Chattanooga, with a vibrant station-area, integrated with nearby affordable housing, and bicycle and pedestrian networks.”