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Friday, February 15, 2008

Brain Train advocates push General Assembly for funding

Emory Morsberger Brain Train Capitol

(Photo by Joeff Davis)

Proponents of the Brain Train, including state legislators, college students, local officials and environmentalists, gathered in the cold shadow of the Gold Dome Thursday to urge legislators to pass funding that would help make the long-running idea a reality.

Bundled up in jackets and fighting the morning cold, supporters held posters and rallied for the proposed route of the Brain Train stretching from Athens to Atlanta and south to Macon.

Emory Morsberger, chairman of Georgians for the Brain Train, said a new poll commissioned by the organization showed 72 percent of registered voters in Bibb, Clayton, Henry, Lamar, Monroe and Spalding counties supported the idea of a commuter train connecting Atlanta and Macon.

"A lot of people ask me, 'Is the Brain Train going to happen?'" Morsberger said. "I say yes. When we started, everyone laughed at us. But now we've got the House, the Senate, the DOT board. It works cost-wise, it works for the environment and it helps congestion. The time to do this is now."

Allen Marshall of Griffin held a poster board outlining the 33 public and private educational institutions the commuter rail line would connect. Schools, he said, would be just one of the benefactors should the Brain Train begin to roll.

Other poll results show:

• 74.2 percent believe commuter rail service in the Macon-Atlanta corridor will help create jobs

• 70.7 percent stated they regularly drive to work

• 85.7 percent believe congestion will get worse in the next 10 years

• 70.6 percent described “traffic congestion getting into Atlanta” as a “big problem,” more than 20 percentage points higher than education, job creation, too much development and local congestion

• 59.2 percent said they would be either very likely or somewhat likely to use commuter rail service if available in the corridor

• 56.4 percent said the argument against commuter rail service that people just won’t use it is NOT PERSUASIVE

Michael Robison, CEO of Lanier Parking, said that of the 13 largest metropolitan regions in the nation, only three are without a commuter rail line. Houston’s one of those, he said, but the city has plans for a train. Detroit, the foreclosure capital of the country, is actually losing people. Atlanta’s the odd one out.

“We’re way behind the rest of the country in doing this,” Morsberger said. “The time is now.”

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