Transportation leaders to discuss high-speed rail system

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Transportation leaders from across the south will gather on Friday in Birmingham. The goal is to come up with a strategy to build high speed rail systems connecting Alabama to other southern states.

The conference follows President Obama's announcement of billions in stimulus money for high speed rail.

Amtrak's Crescent already serves Birmingham, but there is new talk of reviving the Gulf Breeze Corridor too. The state is getting a $200,000 grant to look at that line which once linked Mobile, Montgomery and Birmingham.
Nearly all of Amtrak's service is standard heavy rail, but the new push is for high speed lines linking major cities like in Europe and Asia.

Richard Finley's Southern High Speed Rail Commission is a group that's pushing for high speed rail systems in Alabama. They are holding a conference in Birmingham and one of the topics is high speed rail service between Birmingham and Atlanta.

"We've also had consultation with major real estate developers so that once these station heads are set up you begin to develop residential properties around those stations," says Finley. "Cities of the future are going to be designed around public transportation."

The Alabama High-Speed Rail Conference starts at 8:30 on Friday morning at the Double Tree Hotel on University Avenue in Birmingham.