The Georgia Department of Transportation announced Monday that it has applied for $34 million in federal funding to accelerate development of high-speed rail service between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tenn., with additional links eventually being added to Nashville and Louisville, Ky.

The funds are being sought from the Federal Railroad Administration under the U.S. High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program created by Congress last year and would be used to plan and implement high-speed service along approved corridors.

“Even before the federal high-speed rail program was announced last year, Georgia DOT was already planning several related projects,” said Georgia Transportation Commissioner Vance Smith Jr.

Those projects included the Atlanta-to-Chattanooga rail line and a multi-modal passenger terminal in downtown Atlanta. The two cities are about 120 miles apart.

With the FRA grant, the Georgia and Tennessee transportation departments would continue environmental planning and engineering work between Atlanta and Chattanooga, design approved stations along the corridor, and create a comprehensive plan for high-speed service that ultimately could stretch from Florida to Chicago, according to Smith.

Last year, the Georgia-Tennessee partners received nearly $14 million in federal funds for the Atlanta-to-Chattanooga segment. Tennessee will plan for the segment between Chattanooga and Nashville.

“We look forward to the day when Georgians have a vibrant range of travel alternatives and can choose to travel in safety and comfort along a beautiful high-speed corridor where no options exist today,” Smith said.

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