Infrastructure plan revitalizes hope for Chattanooga rail service

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Chattanooga could regain passenger rail service for the first time in nearly half a century under an $80 billion dollar program proposed by Amtrak rail service as part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan unveiled Wednesday.

The wide-ranging $2 trillion infrastructure package includes over $600 billion for transportation infrastructure, with $80 billion of that for passenger and freight rail.

The Scenic City, which hasn’t had rail service since 1970, and Nashville, which lost its Amtrak rail connections in 1979, would gain Amtrak service by 2035 if Congress and Tennessee officials adopt the plans the government rail service outlined this week to expand rail connections to 160 more U.S. cities.

Tennessee State House Representative Yusuf Hakeem, who’s worked on getting Amtrak back through Chattanooga for well over a decade, says the new plan presents a great opportunity for the city.

“What’s being put forth now affords us that opportunity to take advantage if we take advantage of it. To change the dynamics of who we are in regards to economic viability in this region and I think it would only be positive for us. And again I’ll use Volkswagen, it took all of us to get it done that’s what it’s going to take this time,” says Rep. Hakeem.

David Crockett has been working with Representative Hakeem for decades trying to get a passenger rail service in the form of Amtrak or a high-speed railway for years, and now with the new infrastructure plan he’s more hopeful about the service coming to fruition than he’s been in years.

“Biden had ideas for a high speed network as well as Amtrak. It’ll take everybody on the corridor to get on the same page and it’ll take Washington to get on the same page. I’m more optimistic than I’ve been in a long time that this is going to finally happen,” Mr. Crockett says.

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