Tennessee Connection - DC to Memphis!? - TransDominion Express


Tennessee Connection – DC to Memphis!?

An ad hoc committee met with Tennessee Rail Proponents at the Lynchburg Regional Chamber in May. Present were: TDX Committee Members: French Moore, Rex Hammond, Ira Doom, John Gaines, and Barbara Hartley. Representing Tennessee were: Ben Smith, Retired TDOT Exec Dir – now consultant to Nashville & Eastern Corp., and Scott Sandman, Director Fentress County TN Chamber of Commerce.

Smith and Sandman traveled to share ideas and documents for advancing adjoining rail initiatives. They are working on the Memphis to Bristol Railroad Connection, tentatively referred to here as the TransTennessee Express (TTX).

The Tennessee congressional delegation has already designated congressional monies for a stage 1 feasibility study.

Smith said the Memphis to Nashville route needs only simple fixes to reach speeds similar to those of the proposed TDX system. He sited maximum speed around 79MPH, with freight averaging 45MPH and average passenger speeds of 55MPH. Station locations have been designated where cost ratios are favorable, with rural public transportation money available to get buses to meet trains.

Although the group is in its infancy, 62 Tennessee mayors immediately returned response cards to be part of the coalition. TTX has a graduated joining fee based on population, with the community supplying the station. It was suggested that once TDX is incorporated, a similar ‘pay to play’ system be created to encourage a participative ownership process.

As with Virginia, Tennessee has been long awaiting the I-81 environmental impact study. It was suggested that TDX and TTX hold joint meetings every six months, with a rolling agenda.

Future discussions might include the possibility of a joint authority. Currently, however, the two groups will work as independent entities, with some shared goals.

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