Deciding Atlanta’s streetcar future —lines along Peachtree, 10th Street and MLK belong high on the list

By Maria Saporta

When the City of Atlanta first started envisioning a streetcar renaissance, the centerpiece idea was the “Peachtree Streetcar.”

Study after study showed that the corridor that had the greatest potential for ridership, economic development and private funding was along Peachtree Street from downtown to Midtown and eventually towards Buckhead.

Those initial plans also called for an east-west line to connect Centennial Olympic Park with the King Center along the Auburn Avenue and Edgewood Avenue corridor.

Fortunately, the city was able to secure federal funding to develop the downtown east-west line.

But today, it seems as though a severe case of amnesia has hit the City of Atlanta when it comes to the other all-important leg — the Peachtree Streetcar.

For reasons that can not be easily explained, the Peachtree Streetcar has gone from being the top priority to hardly making the list.

At the same time, the development of streetcars along the Atlanta BeltLine — both on the Eastside (where there would be a half-mile extension to connect to the streetcar serving the King Center, and on the Westside — have emerged as the highest priority.

During the regional negotiations that settled on the transportation project list for the one-percent transportation sales tax, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed fought valiantly to get funding for the BeltLine — in the end securing $600 million of the $6.14 billion project list.

But according to a proposed budget for transit funding for the BeltLine shows that the most expensive leg is not even along the BeltLine corridor. There’s a $227 million allocation for a “crosstown” line — to connect the eastside of the BeltLine with the westside of the BeltLine.

Fortunately there is some flexibility in the Transportation Investment Act for both route and the sequencing of the “BeltLine” streetcar.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, it seems as though decisions on the routes and the priorities have been made with limited public involvement and with a debatable set of criteria.

To be fair, Ethan Davidson, a spokesman for the Atlanta BeltLine, has a completely different perspective.

Davidson said the Atlanta BeltLine and the city have held 13 public meetings over the last 18 months to identify short-term and long-term implementation priorities. He said there also have been meetings with key stakeholders in the business, academic and civic sector.

“This has been a very thorough process where we have made every effort to get public and stakeholder input because it is so important to the future of the city and the region,” Davidson wrote in an email.

He went on to say that the criteria and the work has been based on previous planning efforts, including the Connect Atlanta Plan and the regional transit plan known as Concept 3. He also said the Atlanta BeltLine has hired “some of the best consultants in the country to help develop the transit implementation strategy.”

But there is no question that these decisions will have far-reaching implications on the future of development in Atlanta and how people will circulate for decades to come.

Specifically, one of the pivotal decisions that’s in the process of being made is whether the crosstown route should travel along North Avenue or whether it should travel along 10th Street.

As with any such decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to both routes. A North Avenue route would connect the future Ponce City Market with the North Avenue MARTA station and then to Coca-Cola Co. headquarters.

A 10th Street route would connect Piedmont Park with the Midtown MARTA station and then to the heart of the Georgia Tech campus and the vibrant West Midtown area.

Other ideas exist to have the “crosstown” connection extend the Auburn-Edgewood streetcar line along Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. on towards the Atlanta University Center.

As someone who believes we need all the transit we can get, I can see merit to all of those routes. And I also believe that we will need an extensive streetcar network within the city limits to give Atlantans the ability to travel without having to rely on their cars.

To put the situation in perspective, Ashley Robbins, president of the Citizens for Progressive Transit, observed last week that 65 years ago, Atlanta once had streetcars traveling along many of the routes that currently are on the drawing boards. In fact, she said April 10 was the 63rd anniversary of the end of streetcars in Atlanta.

Today we can lament the decisions made seven decades ago to remove streetcars from our city’s streets. We can imagine how different out city would be today if we had continued our investment in an urban streetcar system.

Now that we are reinvesting in transit and streetcars, we need to be sure we are making wise decisions on where and when we should place the next lines and how they will work together as a transit network for Atlanta and the region.

Joshua Mello, assistant director of transportation for the City of Atlanta’s Department of Planning, said a set of criteria is being used to rank possible streetcar lines as part of the city’s Transit Implementation Strategy. The criteria includes equity, ridership, economic development, redevelopment, private funding and cost.

Mello said the city is working on which projects should be built within the next five years and which would be part of the following phase. Right now it sounds as though the city is leaning in favor of the North Avenue corridor rather than 10th Street, and it appears that plans for the Peachtree Streetcar is being placed in a file drawer for another day.

Personally, I believe both of these decisions are flawed.

Creating a rail transit link from the Midtown MARTA Station to Piedmont Park makes all the sense in the world. Plus the BeltLine streetcar currently is slated to end at 10th Street. That means there could be a wonderful loop of having a streetcar begin at Centennial Olympic Park, connect the King Center, then connect with Freedom Park, the Historic Fourth Ward Park with Piedmont Park.

If there were to be a Peachtree Streetcar, then that loop could be complete.

The Peachtree Streetcar also would connect key destination centers — from downtown to Emory’s Midtown Hospital (Crawford Long) to the Fox Theatre to 10th Street to 14th Street to the Arts Center to SCAD and Brookwood Station.

Mello actually said a Peachtree Streetcar from the Arts Center to Piedmont Hospital actually scored quite high — largely because there is no MARTA line along that corridor.

I also see great merit in having an east-west line connecting Georgia State University with the Atlanta University Center. Davidson did say that a line to the Atlanta University Center is a top priority.

The bottom line — the decision on where Atlanta should locate future streetcar lines really does matter.

And those decisions should be made in the full light of day with as much public participation and with as much solid independent analysis as possible.

That’s the only way we’ll make the best decision possible.

This entry was posted in Maria's Metro. Bookmark the permalink.
35 comments
Tired of this
Tired of this

You got to be kidding me.  What more do you people want?  Do you have to have everything in the northern Peachtree/Buckhead side of the City. You have Atlantic Station and every other new and upcoming development in the City. The Streetcar can help to revitalize the Auburn Avenue Edgewood Area.  Why does every new development in the City have to be on or near Peachtree  Street and Buckhead?  Geez...let some other portion of the City get some type of development for once!!

yourkidding
yourkidding

why didn't they just lease street cars on wheels powered by natural gas for a few years instead of this expensive option?

The money could have gone to free college for APS kids.

UrbanTraveler
UrbanTraveler

What a great conversation going on here! The conversation is shifting, from whether or not we will have streetcars at all in Atlanta, to which line should be next.  That's a sea change and an important milestone for those that believe in transit.  The beauty of the initial east-west line that was chosen is that it is relatively small, can serve both commuters, students, and tourists, and connects to MARTA.  

 

As Maria points out, it wasn't the first choice of planners or leaders, but the first choice, the line on Peachtree St, even in its abbreviated midtown-to downtown form, could not muster the funding to get started.  Peachtree St.  still represents the biggest (both in length and possible ridership) corridor that could use a streetcar.  It's a great and worthwhile debate whether a north-south segment or a send east-west segment should be next.  Empirical study by planners, public input, and practical consideration of what is possible in funding should be guiding forces in deciding what is next.  As others point out, it is important that there be significant ridership from the beginning.

 

Where to build next is a question about implementation and strategy, in the overall context of system thinking and planning rather than incremental design.  If an east-west line gives better connectivity both to the Beltline system and to MARTA at other points, that's a strong argument for it.  But capturing people's imagination by serving one of the more notable, recognized, and congested  corridors (Peachtree St.) and allowing people to complete a trip to or from MARTA in Buckhead, midtown, or downtown, is a powerful argument to make the next segment be a north-south line.

 

What I think is assured is that the demand by the public for more streetcars will jump  as soon as the rails start being laid downtown for the east-west loop, and will accelerate when the first passengers ride next year.  The conversation will change again in a way that will be great for this city.  

Midtown Resident
Midtown Resident

10th street cross connections are a great idea.  North is not bad either but connecting Piedmont all the way to Westside/Howell Mill shopping would be great.  GT, Turner, and Federal Reserve riders would benefit in the middle.

Midtown resident
Midtown resident

I disagree with your assessment.  The key to ridership on the transit is to connect places where people live with places they want to go, not just to connect places people want to go to themselves.  That is a recipe for disaster.  Right now there are very few good cross town links.  I fully support the E-W connection on North Ave. over Piedmont park because of the number of communities it will serve to get people to and from.  10th street does not go to the "heart of GT" it goes to one edge just as North Avenue does. 

TranspoCampAttendee
TranspoCampAttendee

 @Amy Ingles 

I have to agree with Amy, there is very little on 10th Street that is currently the front door to Georgia Tech's campus.  Bobby Dodd Stadium, Technology Enterprise Park, the North Avenue Research Area, Tech Tower, the campus transit center, Student Center, North Avenue Apartments, Ferst Center for the Arts, East Campus Housing, are all better served by North Avenue.  In addition almost all of Tech's transit routes make stops on or near North Avenue, very few make it up to 10th. 

 

Also I want to disagree with this idea that our first goal should be to connect all these parks and museums by transit.  The City needs transit for commuters, not for tourists and weekend outings.  No one rides transit from park to park to get to work.  You can already walk from Midtown Station to Piedmont Park fairly easily, but there is a key missing east/west connection along the North Avenue/Ponce corridor.  Ponce City Market will be on the largest redevelopment projects in our city since Atlantic Station, and it needs transit access.

 

The other selling point for me as a tax payer, is return on investment.  10th Street doesn't have the potential to redevelop like North Avenue and Ponce.  To the south you have Home Park which isn't interested in density development, and on the north side of the interstate you have an already dense Midtown.  On North Avenue and Ponce you have the opposite potential.  You have an area that is showing signs for major redevelopment (i.e. Old Fourth Ward).  Then there's the biggest selling point, that according to all the ridership models conducted, that North Avenue has the potential for better ridership than 10th.

 

In fact the idea was to connect the Atlanta Streetcar project to this project.  If it's 10th, we're going to have to spend even more money to travel around our ear to get to our nose to make that connection.  North Avenue makes more sense there as well, it simply goes up Luckie Street and links in.  We're making this too hard... you build streetcar lines by linking and connecting the last segments you've built.  Streetcars everywhere would be nice, but we need to make logical, financial responsible decisions in linking them.

 

If we had all the money, then sure, 10th Street would be great too.  But since we don't, we should make decisions on which of these projects has the 1) high ridership potential and 2) the greatest positive redevelopment change on Atlanta in order to get our return on investment, and 3) Logical connections to other streetcar segments.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @John Schaffner:

"With all of the commercial/retail development already along the rest of Peachtree Road, as well as that coming on line with Buckhead Atlanta and other already planned development, Butkhead is doing just fine with economic development, thank you. I would think most of Midtown is as well. The area that needs the economic boost is the dying downtown and south and west areas of the city."

 

Of course Buckhead is doing just fine, but we all know very well that the powers-that-be, the boosters, the promoters and, of course, the land spectulation interests in this don't want to do just fine, they want their earning potential to shoot through the roof and the P'tree Streetcar is widely seen as a way to do just that.

 

I completely agree with you that the areas of town that need the most help from an economic standpoint are downtown and the south and west sides of the city.

 

Though, Downtown (the area of Five Points and below including what is now Lower Peachtree Street) is more than likely going to experience a really big boost as signaled by the major real estate-buying binge that developers and land spectulators have been on recently in advance of the development of the MMPT (Multimodal Passenger Terminal) at Five Points which is poised to be a major rail and bus hub for the Atlanta Region and the entire Southeastern U.S.

 

The area around Fort MacPherson could eventually experience a boost if plans to redevelopment that area stay on track, though the rest of the Southside and the Westside will likely continue to struggle as the most desirable and most sought after area of town will continue to be on the Northside above I-20, specifically Cumberland/Vinings, Perimeter Mall, Dunwoody, Decatur Village, the area around Emory, Little Five Points and, especially Midtown and Buckhead, areas that will continue to be very desirable highly-sought after addresses for the foreseeable future and beyond.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @John Schaffner:

"So, what do you want to do, tear out all of the wonderful residential between Peachtree Battle and The Peach shopping center (not to mention the churches) and replace it with retail and office buildings? I hope not in my lifetime."

 

The existing residential development that you speak of between P'tree Battle and The Peach Shopping Center will more than likely not be affected in any negative way by the implementation of the P'tree Streetcar as that existing residential development is already pretty upscale with a lot of value for the most part.

 

But that and other upscale existing residential development along Peachtree that is along the route of the streetcar will more than likely experience a dramatic, if not stunning, appreciation in monetary value, especially as the property, residential and business addresses along the future route of the streetcars becomes even more in demand than it is now.

 

Also, must of the existing low-slung commercial development that lines Peachtree through Buckhead will more than likely be replaced with higher and more dense development over time as the property along P'tree appreciates in value, becomes more in demand and increasingly scarce.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @John Schaffner:

"Think of what there is between where Buckhead begins on the south (where I-85 joins the Downtown Connector) and ends on the north (midway between Roxboro Road and the Brookhaven MARTA station. How much of the commercial area is not already developed?"

 

Running high-frequency streetcar service on Peachtree through Buckhead isn't about developing greenfields or building new construction on undeveloped lots because, as you pointed out, there are virtually no undeveloped lots remaining along Peachtree between the Brookhaven MARTA Station and the south boundary of Buckhead where P'tree runs over I-85 near Brookwood Station. 

 

Implementing streetcar service on Peachtree in Buckhead is about appreciating the value of virtually all existing real estate parcels and redeveloping as many of those existing parcels as can be redeveloped into higher, more dense development.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@John Schaffner:

"Peachtree Road in Buckhead is not Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Broadway in New York."

 

You're are absolutely correct.  Peachtree is not Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Broadway in New York as it is quite obvious that Peachtree is nowhere on par with the notoriety of those streets at the moment, especially when compared to the  legendary cultural exploits of Broadway in New York or even the walkability of Michigan Avenue in Chicago, well-established cultural exploits and walkability that are highly desired in a seemingly up-and-coming international city like Atlanta.

 

But even though Peachtree is clearly not on the same level, not even close at this point, as a Broadway in NYC or even a Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Peachtree is still the most well-known, most instantly recognized and most-famous street in Atlanta.

 

When people who know of Atlanta think of Atlanta the first street that comes to mind is Peachtree and usually what follows is a lighthearted joke about all of the numerous streets with the name "Peachtree" in them.

 

Despite Peachtree not being on the same level of notoriety as New York's Broadway, the city as a whole still intensely desires to have its signature street have the type of cultural importance, streetlife, walkability and overall value that a legendarily famous street like Broadway has in New York.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@John Schaffner :

"I have heard all of these arguments many times before."

 

And you will continue to hear those argument because Atlanta is a town that is driven by real estate developers and land spectulators.

 

As one blogger once put it, "Atlanta is a town that is by developers, for developers" and vice versa.

 

As much as I love and strongly in favor of the concept of the Peachtree Streetcar, I am also under no illusions about the motives of those pushing the streetcar project.

 

Motives that include, first and foremost, dramatically driving-up and increasing the values of what is already some of the city's most highly-valued real estate on the city's most recognized throughfare.

 

You will also continue to hear many of these same arguments, again and again, because, as you are probably well aware, you live in a city that has a reputation for having a very high level of boosterism and promotion from boosters and promoters who think of the city as moving towards being in the same league of international cities such as New York, no matter how ridiculous the thought may actually be at the moment.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@John Schaffner :

"You are 100 percent correct that the Peachtree Streetcar, or any streetcar, is not much about mobility. So, how does it qualify for so much of our transportation funds?"

 

Well, the powers-that-be in City Hall and the Atlanta Regional Commission have tried to qualify the Peachtree Streetcar, but their request for hundreds-of-millions of dollars in grant money to help finance construction of the line was turned down by the Feds who approved the request for the Auburn Avenue Streetcar instead.

 

But the powers-that-be in City Hall and the ARC didn't need to apply for a grant to the Feds because the Peachtree Streetcar has the great potential to be such a transformative project that is more than capable of paying for itself over the long-run with the proceeds from increased property tax revenues (Tax Increment Financing) and user fees in the form of adequately-priced fares.

 

Because the Peachtree Streetcar line is fully-capable of paying for and sustaining itself WITHOUT the use of very-limited existing transportation funds that are needed to address other pressing needs.

John R
John R

As someone who grew up in Buckhead I think that the crosstown East-to-West lines should start as the top priority. As previously mentioned, I think that a P'tree line runs the risk of flopping and serving a "lightning rod" for those who oppose new forms of transit in general. The Beltline is going in will be a tremendous asset to Atlanta and the downtown community but efforts have to be made to weave the new corridor into the city. Accessibilty is key when building these new transit systems, they're clean, look great, and get you around quickly but if citizens aren't able to access it  easily then it will never reach its fullest potential. 

 

Americans and Atlantans love their cars, and we've had to depend on them because of ineffective transit design. I'm sorry to say but my guess is the affluent crowd in Buckhead is going to be one of the last to want to give up their plush BMWs and Mercedes to ride public transit. There's just still too much of a stigma attached to public transit. Give those closer to downtown, midtown, and south Atlanta the chance to show the rest of the region the blessings that transit might provide us and everyone else might catch on.

Real World
Real World

When the old streetcar system was in use, followed later by electric buses, the power supply was through overhead cables, much the same as what's done today. If an incident blocked a traffic lane, or even if the Water Dept. excavated the street, the bus on rubber tires MIGHT be able to run out of its lane far enough to get past the blockage. The old streetcar, however, was stuck to the rails and a stalled car ahead also stalled the streetcar(s). A hole in the street shut down a route for rail-bound streetcars. The poles that followed the overhead cables to conduct the electrical power to the streetcar would sometimes "jump the track". The streetcar (and its air conditioning) was dead in the water until the operator and maybe a nearby cop directing traffic would get the pole back on the cable. One of the biggest celebrations ever seen was the day the last of the overhead cables came down. The cables needed to power streetcars, especially through intersections and places they had to pass each other, were so dense overhead they seemed to block out the sun. It was an aesthetic nightmare. But I'm sure the new ones will be pretty. Won't they?

John Schaffner
John Schaffner

I have heard all of these arguments many times before. Peachtree Road in Buckhead is not Michigan Avenue in Chicago or Broadway in New York. Think of what there is between where Buckhead begins on the south (where I-85 joins the Downtown Connector) and ends on the north (midway between Roxboro Road and the Brookhaven MARTA station. How much of the commercial area is not already developed? So, what do you want to do, tear out all of the wonderful residential between Peachtree Battle and The Peach shopping center (not to mention the churches) and replace it with retail and office buildings? I hope not in my lifetime. With all of the commercial/retail development already along the rest of Peachtree Road, as well as that coming on line with Buckhead Atlanta and other already planned development, Butkhead is doing just fine with economic development, thank you. I would think most of Midtown is as well. The area that needs the economic boost is the dying downtown and south and west areas of the city. The BeltLine will hopefully help with that, and then some cross city lines--maybe streetcars--would help tie it together. All of the TADs downtown don't seem to have generated much so far. Meanwhile, economic development is doing very well, thank you, in Buckhead and many taken care of by Buckhead itself, while Buckhead also pays the majority of the taxes to support those economic development efforts in every other part of the city. We in Buckhead already know what it is like to drive on Peachtree Road when two lanes are blocked off for Sunday church traffic. We don't need that situation seven days a week and especially during rush hour. You are 100 percent correct that the Peachtree Streetcar, or any streetcar, is not much about mobility. So, how does it qualify for so much of our transportation funds? 

.adslot-overlay {position: absolute; font-family: arial, sans-serif; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.65); border: 2px solid rgba(0,0,0,0.65); color: white !important; margin: 0; z-index: 2147483647; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: border-box; text-align: left;}.adslot-overlay-iframed {top: 0; left: 0; right: 0; bottom: 0;}.slotname {position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; right: 0; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; padding: 3px 0 3px 6px; vertical-align: middle; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.45); text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap; overflow: hidden;}.slotname span {text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-transform: capitalize;}.revenue {position: absolute; bottom: 0; left: 0; right: 0; font-size: 11px; padding: 3px 0 3px 6px; vertial-align: middle; text-align: left; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.45); font-weight: bold; text-overflow: ellipsis; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap;}.revenue .name {color: #ccc;}.revenue .horizontal .metric {display: inline-block; padding-right: 1.5em;}.revenue .horizontal .name {padding-right: 0.5em;}.revenue .vertical .metric {display: block; line-height: 1.5em; margin-bottom: 0.5em;}.revenue .vertical .name, .revenue .vertical .value {display: block;}.revenue .square .metric, .revenue .button .metric {display: table-row;}.revenue .square .metric {line-height: 1.5em;}.revenue .square .name, .revenue .square .value, .revenue .button .value {display: table-cell;}.revenue .square .name {padding-right: 1.5em;}.revenue .button .name {display: block; margin-right: 0.5em; width: 1em; overflow: hidden; text-overflow: clip;}.revenue .button .name:first-letter {margin-right: 1.5em;}a.adslot-overlay:hover {border: 2px solid rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}a.adslot-overlay:hover .slotname {border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(81,132,210,0.9); background-color: rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}a.adslot-overlay:hover .revenue {border-top: 1px solid rgba(81,132,210,0.9); background-color: rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover {cursor: not-allowed; border: 2px solid rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover .slotname {border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(128,128,128,0.9); background-color: rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover .revenue {border-top: 1px solid rgba(128,128,128,0.9); background-color: rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Keep-in-mind that the Peachtree Streetcar proposal is not necessarily all that much about mobility, as in addition to the MARTA heavy rail line, there is a surface bus route (bus 110, "The Peach") that services Peachtree between Downtown and Buckhead.

 

The P'tree Streetcar is more about spurring increased economic and real estate development on the city's signature street (Peachtree) between Five Points/Downtown and the Brookhaven MARTA Station.

 

The Peachtree Streetcar is probably not all that necessary from a standpoint of increasing mobility, but it is probably necessary to increase the amount of economic and real estate investment over the long term in the P'tree Corridor between Five Points and Brookhaven.

 

The P'tree Streetcar is about making Peachtree become to Atlanta what Michigan Avenue is to Chicago or Broadway is to New York by attracting more street-level retail and shops that appeal to foot traffic, it's about creating more a more walkable, pedustrian-friendly neighborhood-like vibe on the entire length of the city's most well-known street over the long-term, which is why, as many others have stated and recommended, that the streetcar should be funded more as an economic development project that is fully capable of paying for itself over time using a method that does not draw away from very scarce transit funds.

 

A method like Tax Incremental Financing would be perfect for funding the P'tree Streetcar because the bonds to finance the construction of the streetcar could be paid back over the longer-term using the revenues from the property taxes of the new and increased real estate development that the streetcar would spur along Peachtree between the Garnett MARTA Station and the Brookhaven MARTA Station leaving limited transit funds to finance crosstown streetcar routes that are sorely needed to actually help increase mobility more than economic investment and real estate development.

 

 

John Schaffner
John Schaffner

In the years since a Peachtree Streetcar has been proposed running all the way to Lenox Mall in Buckhead, I cannot recall talking to one (1) Buckhead resident who wants it or would use it. It is just another idea for getting tourists from downtown (where there is no shopping) to Buckhead (where all the good shopping is) and we already have a wonderful MARTA rail line that runs from downtown, through midtown and to two (2) stations virtually adjacent to the two best shopping malls in metro Atlanta, Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. Who needs a slow moving streetcar disrupting one or more traffic lanes of Peachtree Road in Buckhead. I have always said it is simply a "trolley folly." Keep it downtown.

 

.adslot-overlay {position: absolute; font-family: arial, sans-serif; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.65); border: 2px solid rgba(0,0,0,0.65); color: white !important; margin: 0; z-index: 2147483647; text-decoration: none; box-sizing: border-box; text-align: left;}.adslot-overlay-iframed {top: 0; left: 0; right: 0; bottom: 0;}.slotname {position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; right: 0; font-size: 13px; font-weight: bold; padding: 3px 0 3px 6px; vertical-align: middle; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.45); text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap; overflow: hidden;}.slotname span {text-align: left; text-decoration: none; text-transform: capitalize;}.revenue {position: absolute; bottom: 0; left: 0; right: 0; font-size: 11px; padding: 3px 0 3px 6px; vertial-align: middle; text-align: left; background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.45); font-weight: bold; text-overflow: ellipsis; overflow: hidden; white-space: nowrap;}.revenue .name {color: #ccc;}.revenue .horizontal .metric {display: inline-block; padding-right: 1.5em;}.revenue .horizontal .name {padding-right: 0.5em;}.revenue .vertical .metric {display: block; line-height: 1.5em; margin-bottom: 0.5em;}.revenue .vertical .name, .revenue .vertical .value {display: block;}.revenue .square .metric, .revenue .button .metric {display: table-row;}.revenue .square .metric {line-height: 1.5em;}.revenue .square .name, .revenue .square .value, .revenue .button .value {display: table-cell;}.revenue .square .name {padding-right: 1.5em;}.revenue .button .name {display: block; margin-right: 0.5em; width: 1em; overflow: hidden; text-overflow: clip;}.revenue .button .name:first-letter {margin-right: 1.5em;}a.adslot-overlay:hover {border: 2px solid rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}a.adslot-overlay:hover .slotname {border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(81,132,210,0.9); background-color: rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}a.adslot-overlay:hover .revenue {border-top: 1px solid rgba(81,132,210,0.9); background-color: rgba(58,106,173,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover {cursor: not-allowed; border: 2px solid rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover .slotname {border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(128,128,128,0.9); background-color: rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}div.adslot-overlay:hover .revenue {border-top: 1px solid rgba(128,128,128,0.9); background-color: rgba(64,64,64,0.9);}

NewUrbanRoswell
NewUrbanRoswell

I actually like the idea of doing crosstown connections before the peachtree streetcar. The city is grossly undeserved by crosstown connections. By building the peachtree streetcar first, we would face the real risk that it would be underused and thus serve as a lightning rod for theanti-transit crowd. This woul significantly undermine the possibility of building the crosstown connections. If we build the crosstown connections first, we will get the ridership that will demand the Peachtree Streetcar.

JordanStreiff
JordanStreiff

At the recent Citizens for Progressive Transit happy hour where Joshua Mello was the invited guest speaker, he mentioned one reason that they were currently favoring a North Ave. route over a 10th Street route was the issue of bike lanes.  Streetcars and bicycles apparently to do not play nice with each other, and 10th street is currently highly traveled by bikes whereas 10th street is not.  I'm thankful for the "Complete Streets" approach the city seems to be taking with its transit planning.

Amy Ingles
Amy Ingles

I have to disagree with your statement that a streetcar along 10th Street would connect to "the heart of Gerogia Tech's campus".  As a Tech student, North Ave. seems the to fit that title much better.  It is the front door to our historic district of campus and adjacent to the main campus transit hub, as well as the Student Center.  For more reasons why I think that North Ave. should be a higher priority than 10th St. for a streetcar route, please see my opinion piece in The Technique, our weekly paper. http://nique.net/opinions/2012/03/08/streetcar-would-strengthen-campus/

WolfandRhys
WolfandRhys

What would be the terminal points for an E/W North Ave line?

 

I see 10th St as more useful than Peachtree. As stated above, MARTA does follow Peachtree. And GT and Piedmont Park are not well connected to transit. And, to be honest, Westside is where people want to go and it's becoming a nightmare around there on the roads.

guest
guest

I couldn't agree with you more, Maria.

 

Peachtree Street is the soul of Atlanta.  It seems a grave error not to start with this grand thoroughfare, as the main artery of the streetcar system. 

Marty
Marty

My only problem with a Peachtree Streetcar from downtown to midtown is that MARTA already services that corridor quite well.  Now, certainly a street car from Arts Center to Buckhead does make sense, but not so much from Five Points to Arts Center since that would duplicate what MARTA already does.  How about a East-West connector down 10th Street and a streetcar on Peachtree from 10th Street up to Lenox mall? 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

The Peachtree Streetcar should most definitely be the top priority of the remaining streetcar projects up for consideration because of the overwhelming positive and massively unprecented impact it will have on Atlanta's future from both a transit and land use standpoint.

 

The almost-World Famous Peachtree (almost world famous, but not quite) is undoubtedly Atlanta's most important and most recognized street and should be regarded as such by transit planners when considering plans for developing surface modes of rail transit like the streetcar.

 

The Peachtree Streetcar is the most important of the remaining streetcar projects on the board because its potential popularity would likely encourage and spur the utilization of the concept all over the city, changing forever the relationship between transit and land use in this automobile-addicted, automobile-dominated town.

 

The P'tree Streetcar has the potential to take that street from wanting to be world-famous to actually being world-famous by spurring new street-level retail, lots of pedustrian traffic and hundreds-of-millions of dollars, if not billions of dollars, in new commercial development from the site of the current City Jail and Garnett MARTA Station on the south end of Downtown all the way up Peachtree through Buckhead into Brookhaven.

 

Just like the "Brain Train" rail transit line has the potential to make commuter rail/light rail use overwhelmingly popular and trendy in Metro Atlanta (especially in auto-addicted, transit-adverse OTP Metro Atlanta), the Peachtree Streetcar has the potential (if executed properly, of course) to make streetcars overwhelming popular and trendy in ITP Atlanta.

atlurbanist
atlurbanist

 @TIA All The Way  @Amy Ingles I think you've got some great points here about the potential for new development on Ponce & North with a streetcar route versus 10th. There is much more good to be done on Ponce & North with a development tool like a streetcar than on 10th Street. I also agree with you that connecting commuters should be the primary goal with an east-west rail route in Midtown.

 

North Avenue is a state road, though, and one that is very heavily used by cars in the GA Tech area, so that would be a big hurdle to get over. You'd have to convince the state to give up lanes on an already congested roadway. Not an easy task. But if they could be convinced I think it would be a great route for a streetcar.

 

I'll disagree with you a bit on your statement that a person can "walk from Midtown Station to Piedmont Park fairly easily" -- this is, no doubt, true for many people (me included), but on my Saturday afternoon walks on 10th street, I've been surprised by the lack of pedestrian traffic going to and from the park. This is just anecdotal of course and I'd like to see a study done on the pedestrian traffic flow from Midtown Station to the park. My point: if this pedestrian route from the station to the park is not being trafficked well (and my gut feeling is that it isn't), something needs to be done. If not a streetcar, then some major ped/bike improvements like wider sidewalks and some bike lanes.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @John Schaffner

 Take, for example, The Peach shopping center. 

 

In the scenario we are discussing, an existing relatively low-slung shopping center like The Peach that includes the parking spaces in the front of the development like a traditional suburban shopping center may likely be redeveloped in the future so that the development is relocated to stores that front the street, generate foot traffic and are transit-friendly with the parking in the back of the development as is the case with much of the newer development that is already popping along Peachtree in Buckhead with an emphasis on storefronts that line the signature street and generate more foot traffic (at least in the future, anyways).

 

The move towards transit-friendly storefronts located close to the sidewalk on the street is a trend that is occurring all over the U.S. as society increasingly moves away from the low-slung suburban and exurban-style sprawling residential and commercial development that was the hallmark of American living in the 50-plus year era after World War II.

 

The trend towards more transit-friendly development will even that much more noticeable in an auto-dominated region like Metro Atlanta, a region of just under six million people that, unlike much more established transit-heavy cities like Chicago and New York, most of which did not exist until the post-World War II era of auto-dominated suburban and exurban sprawl.

 

Unlike cities like NY and Chicago that started out as compact transit-friendly cities in the (18th and) 19th Century and sprouted automobile-oriented sprawl in the post WWII era, almost all of Metro Atlanta's growth up until now has occurred in the post WWII era of automobile-dominated sprawl as the Atlanta Region has added more than five million people in the 67 years since end of World War II which means that the trend in Metro Atlanta will be move away from increasingly unsustainable auto-dominated sprawling suburban and exurban development and towards more sustainable denser development along transit lines and around transit stations in both the city and the 'burbs.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@John R: 

"Americans and Atlantans love their cars, and we've had to depend on them because of ineffective transit design. I'm sorry to say but my guess is the affluent crowd in Buckhead is going to be one of the last to want to give up their plush BMWs and Mercedes to ride public transit. There's just still too much of a stigma attached to public transit."

 

I fully agree with your analysis of the situation that most of the affluent crowd in Buckhead is likely not going to want to give up driving alone in their very nice cars.

 

I also agree that there is still a persistent stigma attached to public transportation in this town, but that may likely be getting ready to change as the state seems stubbornly determined to forge ahead with its somewhat unpopular plans to implement High Occupancy Toll lanes throughout much of the freeway system in the Atlanta Region/

 

These comprehensive plans to implement HOT/HOV-3 Lanes (Lexus Lanes) on most of the freeway system throughout the Atlanta Region include plans to implement two HOT Lanes on each direction of the Downtown Connector created from the existing HOV-2 and far-left general purpose lanes on that very busy road. 

 

The implementation of HOT Lanes throughout the freeway system are likely to have the effect of making transit much more viable over the long-term than has been the case in this region's post World War II-era history as motorists are forced to take into consideration all options that may be available to escape the escalating traffic jams that may be aggravated by the introduction of HOT Lanes to existing stretches of freeway.

 

There's also a theory going around that one of the main reasons for the state's continuing embrace of the HOT Lane strategy is to help clear out one or two lanes in each direction of the freeway system so that the affluent motorists that you mentioned will be able to have a smoother ride at the expense of those who are not necessarily the most affluent who find the transit they might have once abhorred to be an increasingly attractive options in the face of worsening traffic jams where it may cost $10.00 or more one-way to escape those jams in the Lexus Lanes.

 

atlurbanist
atlurbanist

 @Real World

"One of the biggest celebrations ever seen was the day the last of the overhead cables came down"

 

I'm not saying I doubt you, but I'm not familiar with this celebration. Though I am familiar with the sadness many Atlantans felt about the streetcars going away, as chronicled here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ByTgAtilbi4C&pg=PA429

 

Yes, overhead wires of today are much less likely to "block out the sun" than those of the early 20th century. And there is no proposal to bring back the extensive network of streetcar lines that Atlanta had in the 1920s and 30s, so no need to fear.

atlurbanist
atlurbanist

 @NewUrbanRoswell I think you're right about this. The east-west connections would be a huge benefit through Midtown and elsewhere and I think that would be an excellent focus for further streetcar lines. I was looking at old maps of streetcars in Atlanta and from what I could tell, there's never been an east-west streetcar that goes from the west end over to east Midtown.

atlurbanist
atlurbanist

 @JordanStreiff That's a great point -- it's important to design bike safety into streetcar routes. Fortunately, there are plenty of clear lessons to be learned from cities like Portland and Seattle in this regard. It's possible to avoid their mistakes and copy their successes when it comes to designing streetcar/bike interaction and much has been written about this subject. Particularly on a straight street like 10th, it would be simple to design a bike lane that allows safe riding alongside a streetcar.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Marty:

 

The Peachtree Streetcar isn't intended to duplicate the service that the heavy rail subway line provides to the Peachtree Corridor, but rather, the Peachtree Streetcar is intended to compliment the existing heavy rail subway line by replacing the existing surface bus route 110 ("The Peach") between Five Points and Buckhead and part of surface bus route 25 (P'tree Industrial Blvd) between Buckhead and Brookhaven Station.

 

Streetcars are not the equivalent of heavy rail transit lines with stops at underground or elevated stations every 5-10 city blocks.

 

Since streetcars are basically buses without tires, but railroad wheels that run on rail tracks embedded in the street (a glorified bus line or a cable car, if you will), the P'tree Streetcar won't be duplicating or competing with the MARTA North Subway Line (Red/Gold Line) in any way because both are two different modes of rail transportation that perform two totally different functions.

 

The MARTA North subway line performs the function of an Intown express bus on tracks with stops at stations every few blocks or so while the P'tree Streetcar will perform the functions of a local bus that can stop every block or so on-request/on-demand by passengers and riders in the same way that a local bus stops at every block as requested by passengers.

 

There's a HUGE difference between what a heavy rail line does and what a streetcar does.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

 @atlurbanist    

"North Avenue is a state road, though, and one that is very heavily used by cars in the GA Tech area, so that would be a big hurdle to get over. You'd have to convince the state to give up lanes on an already congested roadway. Not an easy task. But if they could be convinced I think it would be a great route for a streetcar."

 

The city is already in the process of convincing the state to give up lanes on the very-congested Peachtree Street and Peachtree Road for the construction of the Peachtree Streetcar from West Peachtree Street in Midtown through Buckhead up to the Brookhaven MARTA Station which is designated as U.S. Highway 19, Georgia Highways 9 & 141, respectively.

 

Though from some of the plans I've seen, it appears as though the streetcars would have to share lanes with automobile traffic like in other cities with streetcars on streets with limited right-of-ways like Peachtree and the like (most famously in San Francisco where the city's historic cable cars share street lanes with automobile traffic), though I could be wrong.

 

If the city can seemingly convince the state to share traffic lanes with streetcars for six-and-a-half miles on the state's busiest surface throughfare on Peachtree, then surely the same could be done for North and Ponce de Leon Avenues.

Marty
Marty

 @The Last Democrat in Georgia I do understand the differences in modes of a subway vs. streetcar. But since resources are obviously scarce, I wouldn't want to see whatever money that is available being used in places were public transit is already very much available. The Peachtree St corridor from Five Points to 14th Street is already one of the best served areas in the city for public transit with the Marta rail line.  

 

While it would certainly be a nice thing to have streetcars on Peachtree south of 10th Street, it just seems to me that any available money should be used to service areas without access to rail.  Peachtree from 14th St to Buckhead meets that definition as does 10th Street from West Midtown to Piedmont Park and/or North Ave out to Ponce City Market.  If I want to use transit to get from 10th St & Peachtree to the Fairlie Poplar District, I already have easy access to do so.  But if I want to use transit to get from Piedmont Park to West Midtown or from the Fox Theater to Piedmont Hospital it is virtually impossible to use transit in any time effective manner.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

Marty:

 

I fully agree with the need for increased crosstown transit connectivity.

 

Maybe the crosstown route in question could be an intersecting part of the Peachtree Streetcar project.

 

No matter how transit service is increased cross-Midtown, whether by bus, as part of the Peachtree Streetcar or as a project in its own right, one thing that is certain is that the city and the powers-that-be could definitely pick up the pace in upgrading transit service in Intown Atlanta.

 

One way to do that would be throught the use of a financing method called Tax Increment Financing where, instead of using the scarce financial resources that you speak of that are barely available for transit, the proceeds from future (and existing) property tax revenues (in addition to user fees in the form of fares) are used freeing up scarce financial resources to finance other services which may not get nowhere nearly as much financial return as the Peachtree Streetcar which is fully capable of paying for itself many times over over the long run.