Chattanooga gets $400,000 grant to perform light rail study

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CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee — Chattanooga leaders say a federal grant will help pay for a study to determine whether a light rail public transportation system would be feasible for the city.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (http://bit.ly/1fIEhb6) the city announced Monday that it was chosen to receive a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Transportation Department. The city is chipping in another $300,000 for the study that will evaluate the project that is estimated to cost $35 million.

The plan calls for leaning heavily on existing tracks to which the city can acquire the rights. The study will focus on factors such as passenger demand, route options and fare structure.

"We are taking an important first step," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke.

"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," Berke said in a statement.

If the study finds such a system is feasible, the city said the project "would complement ongoing plans to revitalize the city through transit-oriented development, enhancing the city's efforts to improve air quality by transforming to a more pedestrian-and transit-friendly community."

Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said in a statement, "I am confident a passenger rail option would allow us to utilize existing rail infrastructure and provide transportation options to residents throughout the city."


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com

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