The Federal Railroad Administration and Georgia Department of Transportation are preparing an environmental impact statement study to evaluate passenger rail improvements in the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor between Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

The study will comply with the federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, and includes a Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan that with data to support funding and implementation decisions.

Environmental, economic, and social effects of various corridors will be considered. The plan will also include a conceptual engineering and financial analysis for ridership, cost and, revenue estimates for each corridor.

Public meetings will be held June 4 in Suwanee, Ga., June 5 in Greer, S.C., and June 6 in Charlotte.

The 280-mile-long route being studied is facing "serious mobility challenges" that will negatively affect local, regional, and national economies if left unaddressed, according to a special website.

"The existing transportation infrastructure is outdated, congested, disconnected, and has limited reliable passenger mode choices," the website said.

In addition to improving mobility between Atlanta and Charlotte, passenger rail services would be an extension of planned connections to other East Coast areas such as Washington D.C., New York, and Boston.

A draft environmental impact statement is expected to be done in the first quarter of 2014, and a final statement is projected by the end of next year. The statement is necessary for federal approval of the project known as the "Record of Decision," which is anticipated by mid 2015.

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