Lawmakers are expected to consider a bill in Nashville this week heading for a high-speed pass.
The proposed bill would direct the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations to conduct a feasibility study on expanding Amtrak’s passenger rail service in Tennessee.
Filed by two Nashville Democrats, a suggested preliminary rail line would link Nashville and Atlanta with a stop in Chattanooga, but other lawmakers also see potential to connect other parts of the state.
Bristol Sen. Jon Lundberg, a Republican who signed the bill as a co-sponsor, told Newschannel 5 from Nashville that he would like to see a line meet a new Amtrak service planned by Virginia at the border of the state and extend it east to Tennessee. . Opportunities for tourism and other travel are excellent, he said.
The state may be a little late to join the passenger rail push, but now may be the best opportunity in years to get on board.
A federal infrastructure improvement plan has earmarked $66 billion to improve and expand Amtrak, and national polls show overwhelming agreement among Americans that passenger rail service should be a priority.
We agree and believe that the TACIR study should be accelerated.
Traffic congestion, volatile fuel prices, and increasing pollution show the need for a convenient, reliable, and less expensive public transit system in our state and region.
People in our area would also appreciate the opportunity. Dozens of letters to the Forum poured into the press offices in December when our Question of the Week focused on interest in passenger rail.
We call on our state legislators to vote for House Bill 2278 and Senate Bill 2602 to conduct the TACIR study, and we encourage our congressional delegation to support the expansion of passenger rail service. whenever possible at the national level.