NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) —Nashville has cars, and planes, but no trains… well, not yet.
“It’s so exciting that we are actually looking at finally possibly getting some passenger rail in Tennessee,” said state Sen. Heidi Campbell.
Campbell is one of many lawmakers across the state who’s been pushing for more passenger rail services to come to Tennessee.
“We’re talking about taking cars off roads,” she said. “We’re talking about getting people from one point to another in a much more environmentally manner.”
Back in 2021, President Joe Biden signed an infrastructure bill setting aside $66 billion to expand Amtrak services.
Amtrak proposed using some of that money to build a passenger railway connection from Atlanta to Chattanooga and Nashville, with multiple stops in between.
Now, the Federal Railroad Administration is looking for proposals.
Before the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) can apply, they have to pick between two routes for the FRA to study — Nashville to Chattanooga or Nashville to Memphis
“I would probably prefer Nashville to Chattanooga,” said Nashville resident Chelsea Herron.
While most people News 2 spoke with preferred the Chattanooga route, Nashville resident Garrett Elmer did like the Memphis option.
“I think Memphis because it connects two very popular cities,” he said.
Campbell wouldn’t pick which route would be the best for our area because she does see the benefits of both.
“I think the important thing is that we choose one to study, and hopefully it won’t be an either-or because I think that both routes need to happen,” she said. “It’s just a matter of which one is more viable to do as our initial route.”
A specific route hasn’t been picked yet, but most residents say if Amtrak returned to Nashville they would ride it.
“Gas is expensive right, and just the convenience of hopping on a rail and getting between cities is great,” said Tyler Lordi.
“The only issue is once you get there not having your car with you, but outside of that I think we would use it a lot,” said Herron.
As residents and lawmakers wait for TDOT to make its final choice to hopefully obtain federal grant money, Campbell knows bringing rail services this way is an overall benefit to the state.
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“We all know this is going to be a long process and the sooner we get started the sooner we’re going to be able to get people on trains and have the opportunity to actually connect to other cities,” she said.
News 2 did reach out to TDOT officials who say they are awaiting the results of a Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations statewide study.
They said the study would help them identify what corridors would be the best candidates for rail possibilities, but it isn’t expected to be completed until July.
TDOT did submit its letter of intent to the FRA back in December 2022.
Formal corridor proposals have to be submitted to the FRA to be selected for funding by March 20.