Smith said there is funding from a federal grant to implement commuter rail from Atlanta to Griffin for the first three years of operation. The grant provides federal money up front but some state money is required up front, as well. Since the state’s fiscal year 2010 budget has not been determined, whether or not there will be funding for commuter rail this year has not been determined.
Nevertheless, the DOT has moved forward with certain aspects of the project.
“DOT has requested that each jurisdiction along the rail line determine the location of the platform within their jurisdiction,” he said.
This would enable the state to begin environmental inspections and other preparations for the implementation of the rail line. Smith and representatives of the DOT looked at three potential locations for the Griffin station. The first site was the old Thomaston Mill, the second a site between Eighth and Ninth streets on the north side of the railroad tracks and the site that was ultimately approved, which is located on East Broad Street between the street itself and the railroad tracks.
He said many factors contributed to the final selection of the site, including grade separation, the proximity to the railroad crossing, potential economic development in the area and the fact the city already owns the property.
“The minimum requirement is a very small platform but as ridership grows, there is going to be some additional parking area we’re going to have to look at,” Smith said.
This would involve dealing with the county, since the county owns part of the parking lot immediately behind the Spalding County Courthouse Annex.
Commissioner Joanne Todd said the measure reminded her of an earlier attempt to find a location for the commuter rail station.
“Earlier, back in 200, they were envisioning a line through Columbus that would have taken place at the junction at Ninth Street,” Todd said.
She said there was discussion but no definite decision was made as to where the kiosk would be. She said some wanted it at the Griffin Regional Welcome Center, which had just been remodeled.
She does approve of the new site.
“I think it’s a good location,” she said. “I voted for it.”
She said a good location for the station would be one that funnels people into downtown. The current location not only fulfills that requirement but will also provide additional incentive to redevelop the old city hall property.