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Emory makes $50,000 donation to Brain Train group

WINDER - The wheels of momentum keep rolling for commuter rail from Athens to Atlanta.

Emory University in Atlanta has pledged nearly $50,000 to the Georgia Brain Train Group, an alliance of political, business and academic leaders backing the plan.

Emory has a stake in the effort since many of its employees commute from the suburbs to the university.

The Brain Train recently released the results of polls in Gwinnett, Barrow, Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties showing strong support for the 72-mile passenger rail line.

Emory's donation will help the Brain Train educate the public about the idea, said E.H. Culpepper, an Athens-area business leader who's helping spearhead the railway.

With support from Emory and encouraging results from the recent surveys, the energy behind the nearly 20-year commuter rail effort "is at its highest point yet," Culpepper said following Wednesday's meeting of the Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority.

The Authority also backs the plan because a commuter train complements its goal of creating a linear biosciences park - Georgia's version of the North Carolina's Research Triangle - stretching Ga. Highway 316 from Athens to Atlanta.

The passenger train would travel on an upgraded CSX freight line that parallels Ga. 316, cuts southwest though Lawrenceville, Lilburn and Tucker and runs into Atlanta.

It could handle 8,000 trips a day, and at least 80 percent of passengers would board at Gwinnett and DeKalb County stops on the way to job centers at Emory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Atlantic Station in Midtown, according to the Georgia Department of

Transportation.