FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear is eager to get Kentucky on board a high-speed passenger rail service, but the state might have to wait awhile at the station.
The Federal Railroad Administration has approved a $250,000 grant for Georgia to study the feasibility of a high-speed passenger service from Chicago to Atlanta that might go through Louisville, according to a release Friday by Beshear's office.
Kentucky, while it did not get any money, could benefit from that study.
Beshear and Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen last October endorsed an application by Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to the federal government for support of a rail corridor from Chicago to Atlanta that could run through Louisville and Nashville.
"Our goal, ultimately, is to see the national high-speed rail system ... to include this corridor," Beshear said. "This would correct an omission in the nationwide network — especially in terms of a continuous passenger rail corridor from Chicago to Florida."
The governor's release did not mention that Georgia officials this week were disappointed that they won just $750,000 from the $8 billion pool of high-speed rail grants that President Obama announced Wednesday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that "Georgia high-speed rail advocates were despondent" with its small amount of federal grants for three studies, while other states got grants to actually build rail lines.
Chuck Wolfe, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said he did not know when the study for a route from Chicago to Atlanta would be completed or where the route might actually go through Kentucky.
The announcement of the study led Democratic Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo's campaign for the U.S. Senate to renew his call to include Kentucky in a new national high-speed rail network.
"Today's announcement is the first step towards hopefully including Kentucky in a high speed national rail network that could bring badly jobs and economic growth to our state," Mongiardo said.