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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

DOT Board pushes for Atlanta-Lovejoy line -- again

Lost in the headlines about the DOT romance between former board Chairman Mike Evans and Commissioner Gena Abraham was the news that commuter rail earned a shot in the arm on Monday. The board passed a resolution that directs agency staff to determine how feasible a new funding concept would be to cover much of the costs — including the tricky operating costs — of a commuter rail network in metro Atlanta. Probable first on the list: A line between Atlanta and the awesomely named hamlet of Lovejoy. The project already has nearly $110 million in DOT funding earmarked as well as promised federal funding.

I heard what you said. "Lovejoy? Why not somewhere more populous and exciting, like Marietta? White Water's fixing to open soon, yo." My thoughts exactly.

But to create a vibrant rail corridor to Macon, a long-planned vision for the state, Lovejoy would be a good first stop. Also, when the idea was first brought to light years ago, the city to our south is as far as the money would take them. DOT Board member Larry Walker said that the money is there, time had been invested by certain parties, and it was the most feasible.

Walker says the resolution is not just a toothless vote that will add to the pile of such actions passed over the years.

"What's the difference between this motion and the motions in the past?" said Robert Brown during Monday's meeting.

"We want it done," said Larry Walker, a board member who has been one of the biggest pushers for commuter rail. "We can keep coming back and talking about debt and what's it going to cost, but we might be here in five years talking about the same thing."

Walker's not alone in wanting to see commuter trains run from Atlanta to Lovejoy.

"We've been talking about this too long," said Bill Kuhlke, who became acting chairman after Garland Pinholster resigned from the position. "And frankly we can't build enough roads to ease that congestion."

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