An initial environmental study of a proposed high-speed passenger train from Atlanta to Charlotte chose the most southern route for the train, the Greenfield Alternative, a route that would take the train through Madison, Jackson and Barrow counties in northeast Georgia.
That route, if it is eventually approved, would take the train south of Royston into Madison County, south of Danielsville and into Athens. From there, the route would go through a part of western Jackson County and eastern Barrow County to approach Atlanta.
The Tier 1 environmental impact report for the project was released July 9.
The exact approach from Athens to Atlanta is being deferred for further study, the study said.
Two ideas in the study suggested the train leave Athens and run through West Jackson and the Braselton-Hoschton area to Suwanee. The other idea would be for the train to run through a smaller part of southwestern Jackson County and part of Barrow County to Lawrenceville.
No stations are proposed for Jackson, Barrow or Madison counties, but a station is proposed for Athens.
The Greenfield route was one of three proposed routes considered in the report. One of the rejected routes would have had the train follow I-85 all the way through Jackson County with a station in Commerce. That route was rejected, in part, because of the high cost.
The Greenfield route has the potential for the highest speed, up to 220 mph, the study said. That's because of the geography of that route is more gentle than the other alternatives. The Greenfield route would also allow for more trips, the study said.
"GDOT determined that the Greenfield Corridor Alternative would support the most round-trip frequencies among the Corridor Alternatives and, therefore, would generate the highest ridership," said the report.
The proposed Atlanta-Charlotte train is part of a larger rail development project dating to 1992 to connect Washington D.C. into the Southeast.
The cost is expected to be between $6.4 and $8.4 billion.