Chattanooga Makes Move Toward Commuter Rail
City planners in Chattanooga say a commuter light rail system would connect its downtown center with the airport and some of the area’s underserved neighborhoods. The result, they claim, is a pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly city with lower emissions and more access to jobs.
That vision moved one step closer to fruition this week when the federal Department of Transportation announced it will give the city $400,000 to help pay for a $700,000 feasibility study. Specifically, the study will determine whether there’s enough demand for a commuter rail system in Chattanooga, where it should run and how much it should charge riders.
The system would convert old, abandoned freight rails into passenger rails. It would also include the construction of a new transfer station in downtown Chattanooga, which would provide connections to bicycle and pedestrian networks and nearby affordable housing.
“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,” Mayor Andy Berke said in a statement.
At this point, the project is estimated to cost $35 million.