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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)– Local and national leaders are weighing in on the potential for passenger trains coming through in Middle Georgia.
President Joe Biden released his American Jobs Plan last month. The plan includes massive infrastructure projects to fix highways, upgrade bridges, and create passenger trains that would run through Middle Georgia.
United States Secretary of Transportation, Pete Buttigieg, spoke about the plan and how it will impact the area. He believes the passenger trains would boost the local and state’s economy.
“The overall vision for transportation infrastructure in the President’s plan is about $620 billion,” Buttigieg explained. “If you do the math and divvy it up, that means billions of dollars and jobs coming to Georgia.”
Passenger railways have been in discussion for years among state legislators. The most recent proposal being from State Representative, Ron Stephens in Savannah. Stephens proposed creating a committee to study how the state could create a railway to travel from Atlanta to Savannah. Although it never passed through the Georgia General Assembly, he and other state lawmakers, like Miriam Paris, are looking forward to seeing it put in place.
“It will certainly decrease the number of emissions, it’ll be good for our environment as well as do some things for us economically,” State Representative Miriam Paris stated.
The Macon Chamber of Commerce says they’re looking forward to the idea of passenger trains. Board Chair Rob Betzel says, the prospect of trains would bring more industries and tourists to Macon.
“From a business perspective it brings possibly tourists in, I think it gives a chance for the business community to possibly have more people move here to be employed and I think it gives a chance to businesses to consider moving here because they have yet another opportunity for fast transportation to the city and to the coast and frankly the northeast.”
The plan would happen over a 15 year period, and sets aside $80 billion for railways. Buttigieg says national leaders could get things moving soon.
“The President is really hoping for congress to make major progress on this bill before memorial day and that’s one reason why you see a real sense of urgency on our part. I would love nothing more than to be celebrating passage this summer and getting down to actually getting those dollars out to communities.”
Buttigieg says national leaders will work closely with Amtrak and the Georgia Department of Transportation,
to introduce infrastructure improvements as soon as funding is available.