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Commuter rail without Barnesville stop unworthy of support

Nearly 20 years ago, Georgia’s deputy transportation commissioner held a news conference on the grounds of the Barnesville Depot to announce local citizens would be able to ride commuter trains to Atlanta to attend the 1996 Olympic Games. She, of course, lied to us all. Commuter rail is a conceptual dream but a construction and implementation nightmare. Now, some wealthy individuals from Atlanta have put big bucks behind the project. They hired the prestigious Brookings Institute to study the concept of commuter rail service linking Macon and Atlanta. Brookings scholars put a $400 million price tag on implementing the service with another $25 million per year required for maintenance and operations. Construction is to begin 2016 with trains rolling two years later. The route would be serviced by six train sets, each consisting of one locomotive and three cars. Planned are four daily round trips connecting Atlanta and Macon through Barnesville and another eight round trips between Griffin and Atlanta. There is one big problem: there is no stop proposed for Barnesville-Lamar County. But, through the use of multi-county tax allocation districts, you could be asked to pay for the construction of a commuter rail line that will amount to nothing more to a high-speed safety hazard locally. With all due respect to our friends in Griffin and Forsyth, downtown Barnesville is more vibrant than either and has much more going for it. Additionally, Gordon College alone is worth a stop for those commuting by rail. Such rail service without a local station is unacceptable. In order to change the plan, you must be vocal. Contact our state senator and state representatives and make this a campaign issue this election year. Here is the contact info: Sen. Ronnie Chance: 404-463-1366; Rep. Jim Cole: 404-651-7737; Rep. David Knight: 404-656-0152; Rep. Billy Maddox: 404-656-0188; Rep. Tony Sellier: 404-656-0254;

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