Atlanta poised to adopt $3.65 billion transit plan for BeltLine, Streetcar

By David Pendered

This story was updated Tuesday morning with information from a revised transit plan Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provided late Monday afternoon.

Atlanta’s original, $3.65 billion proposal for transit along the Atlanta BeltLine and Atlanta Streetcar could soon be adopted into the city’s comprehensive transportation plan, following a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday at Atlanta City Hall.

BeltLine with Streetcar along trail

The Atlanta Streetcar is to run in both directions alongside the mixed use trail to be built along the Atlanta BeltLine, according to the city’s transit plan. Credit: beltline.org

The Atlanta City Council’s Community Development Committee has scheduled a public hearing at its Tuesday meeting, which is to begin at 12:30 p.m. This may be one of the final opportunities for the public to express opinions on proposed transit routes that ultimately could be embedded in the city’s 25-year transportation plan.

Proposed routes for the BeltLine and Streetcar were published in February 2014. Legislation to incorporate the routes into the city’s Connect Atlanta transportation plan was submitted in February 2014. The original paper has since been amended by the Community Development Committee.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. provided a revised version of the plan Monday afternoon. The revised plan is dated June 4.

The revision does not provide cost estimates for the proposed transit line. The entire project now is a priority, meaning segments will be built as money for them becomes available. The notion is to expand from existing Streetcar operations and connecting to other transit conections. Changes to the 2014 plan appear to include the addition of service mainly in the southern crescent. The total mileage was increased by five miles, to a total of 68 miles, for the combined BeltLine and Streetcar routes.

Notable changes include the addition of service from west of the Atlanta University Center, running north along Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, then turning west on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard to a terminus just past the BeltLine; and south from Grant Park to just beyond the BeltLine. A planned route south of Turner Field has been shortened. On the northern crescent, service would be added along Northside Drive, from the BeltLine to North Avenue.

The original time line called for the Atlanta City Council to approve the legislation at its meeting on March 17, 2014, according to the BeltLine’s website.

The BeltLine/Streetcar plan was envisioned in the 2014 plan as a 63-mile system priced in the 2014 plan at $3.65 billion, without including the cost of the existing Atlanta Streetcar system. Construction was to have been divided into four phases, according to a graphic posted on the BeltLine’s website:

BeltLine, Streetcar refined system plan

BeltLine.org released this refined system plan on Monday. Compared to the 2014 plan, the revision appears to add service on Northside Drive, west of the Atlanta University Center, and Grant Park. The revision appears to shorten a proposed route south of Turner Field. A map of the 2014 plan is beneath the story. Credit: beltline.org

  • The downtown loop of the Streetcar is a 2.7 mile route that has opened and is to serve an estimated 14,000 riders each day. Ridership currently stands at about 3,000 riders a day, the city reported last week. The system has been open six months.
  • Phase 1: 11.3 miles at a cost of $661 million.
  • Phase 2: 7.9 miles at a cost of $497 million.
  • Phase 3: 15.6 miles at a cost of $990 million.
  • Phase 4: 25.1 miles at a cost of $1.5 billion.
  • The BeltLine and Streetcar are expected to add $6.5 billion in development over 20 years. Values were estimated in 2012.

The Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. has provided $3 million in its budget that takes effect July 1 to design a 1.5 extension of the Atlanta Streetcar eastward along the Auburn Avenue corridor toward Krog Street, where the Streetcar would dead-end at the BeltLine.

In addition, Atlanta has submitted its application for $29.3 million in federal funding to help pay for the Streetcar’s extension toward Krog Street. The total cost of the project is estimated at $65.4 million.

BeltLine, Streetcar

The $3.65 billion transit plan envisions the expansion of the Atlanta Streetcar to and along the Atlanta BeltLine. Credit: beltline.org

Time is becoming of the essence in transit funding in Georgia. This includes Atlanta’s two transit initiatives, which operate outside the funding universe of MARTA. Atlanta has chosen to design, build, and operate the BeltLine and Streetcar transit systems on its own, with MARTA providing technical support.

In January 2016, Georgia intends to award a total of $75 million to transit agencies throughout the state. In addition, Georgia likely will provide additional funding for transit in future years, according to Jay Roberts, Gov. Nathan Deal’s recently named chief of transportation planning. Roberts spoke June 10 at a GRTA meeting.

The next session of the state Legislature convenes in January and Deal has just three more budgets with which to cement his transportation philosophy. So far, Deal has ensured annual operating funds for GRTA, implemented a managed lanes system on which coach buses can travel, and embraced public private partnerships to fund construction.

By having routes for the BeltLine and Streetcar formally adopted into Connect Atlanta, the city’s transportation plan, city officials expect they will be better able to defend funding requests made of state and regional entities, according to language in the Connect Atlanta plan.

BeltLine, Streetcar plan

This is the 2014 version of a proposed $3.65 billion transit plan to develop the Atlanta BeltLine and Atlanta Streetcar. Credit: beltline.org

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

52 replies
  1. InfraredGuy says:

    Go for it Atlanta, just be sure you don’t drop off in a pothole on the way to the meeting or get blind sided by a ruptured sewage lineReport

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  2. writes_of_weigh says:

    I can’t locate the proposed MMPT on the beltline’s map which, one presumes would link the varied modalities, and the fare paying (to be) transported???Report

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  3. Burroughston Broch says:

    The present route cost $100+ million (total not announced) and is 2.7 miles – cost $37 million/mile
    The proposed extension to the Beltline is estimated at $65.4 million and is 1.5 miles – cost $44 million/mile
    Phase 1: 11.3 miles at a cost of $661 million – cost $58 million/mile
    Phase 2: 7.9 miles at a cost of $497 million – cost $63 million/mile
    Phase 3: 15.6 miles at a cost of $990 million – cost $63 million/mile
    Phase 4: 25.1 miles at a cost of $1.5 billion – cost $60 million/mile
    All of these costs are in 2015 dollars, so the actual cost will be higher when and if they are ever built.
    Notice the trend – these expansions are estimated to cost 63% more per mile than the present route. We were told that building along the Beltline would be cheaper, not 63% more expensive.
    If the White Elephant is expanded, City taxpayers will be at enormous financial risk. Even if the Federal grant were obtained for the extension to the Beltline, City taxpayers would foot 55% of the bill. If not – 100% of the bill.
    And this doesn’t even consider the cost to operate the system. As it now stands, if the present system were to attract 3,000 riders every day of the year at the present $1 fare, the fares would pay only 20% of the operating cost, leaving City taxpayers to pay for the rest.

    It’s time for City taxpayers to make their wishes known.Report

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  4. wadams1 says:

    the project will be an epic and pathetically godawful waste of time and money unless it’s done correctly, that is, build the streetcars with separated, dedicated lines with rights of way. otherwise, these streetcars will just be traffic. 

    also, the City of Atlanta should institute heavy congestion pricing or a traffic tax for all of the anti-transit suburban “Atlantans” in Cobb/Gwinnett (especially) to help pay for this project!! if they want to drive into the City everyday from their homogenous suburban sprawl, they should be willing to pay a traffic tax to make up for all of the negative unintended consequences to which they contribute by driving into the City: more traffic, more congestion, more wasted time/money, more accidents, more fatalities, more police, more road maintenance, et al. 

    Burroughston Broch your argument against building these streetcar lines based purely on cost projects isn’t very well thought out, is it? E.g.: 200 Edgewood, along the new streetcar line, is starting to break ground on a $33 million housing complex…essentially 30% of the streetcar’s cost. so the idea you should focus on, instead, is how this project is supposed to be an investment in infrastructure to bring jobs, business and economic growth to the places that surround these streetcar lines. but perhaps wasting $1 trillion a year isn’t wasteful enough for you to try something different other than car-centric suburban sprawl? 

    http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2015/03/19/the-cost-of-sprawl-more-than-1-trillion-per-year-new-report-says/ 

    but something tells me you never complained about the cost when the Feds/GDOT approved the $1.1 billion overhaul of the i285/GA 400 interchange bs a month or so ago… http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/feds-ok-1-billion-project-new-i-285-ga-400-interch/nmMXN/#__federated=1 

    InfraredGuy  quit complaining about shoddy roads, the financing mechanism (federal/state gas taxes) were obsolete, forcing Ga state legislature to push through an excise tax on gas… http://www.planetizen.com/node/75504Report

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  5. Burroughston Broch says:

    wadams1 Burroughston Broch InfraredGuy   The City will collect per year no more than $420,000/year on the $33 million housing complex, assuming no subsidies or rebates. But you and I know there will be plenty and the property tax bill will be lower.
    At 4% interest per year and 30 year payout, the $53,000,000 City share costs $3,065,000 per year to amortize. Plus the City is paying $5,000,000 per year to operate it. So the annual cost is $8,065,000 per year.
    Property taxes on this $33 million housing complex at most will cover 5.2% of the annual cost to City taxpayers.
    To cover the entire yearly cost, you would need about $635 million of new, fully taxable property.Report

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  6. InfraredGuy says:

    When all the dust settles, the Streetcar will be Underground II and all it’s supporters will have disappeared and moved on to another public scam but such is the life of Liberals using other peoples moneyReport

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  7. wadams1 says:

    Burroughston Broch so every year, each and every atlantan burns $1,120 a year due to suburban sprawl and traffic congestion. with 5.5 million metro atlanta residents and counting, that totals roughly $6.1 BILLION WASTED ANNUALLY…and that’s just in the metro atlanta area. and you’re complaining that we can’t afford a $3.65 billion transit system that will lead to more jobs, economic growth and a significantly higher quality of life for a generation? 

    http://www.wsbradio.com/news/news/study-atlanta-traffic-7th-worst-nation/nWF7c/ 

    do you support the construction of a $1.1 billion new interchange at 285/400? that costs a third of this entire project, but not one person has ever complained about that cost…not once!! is that project not a wasteful public subsidy??
    InfraredGuy  please, at least try and make a considerate, thoughtful response that adds value to this debate instead of some making some baseless, incoherent rant….or perhaps you’d like to explain why “liberal” cities such as san francisco, chicago and new york are all attracting young, educated talented, hard workers that are creating more jobs and driving more economic growth than atlanta because they’ve invested heavily in public transit infrastructure and walkable, bike-able communities? this matters, after all, we’re paying for your social security!!

    my point is: we have to try something different if we want to increase the mobility and the quality of life for people living in the City of Atlanta; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity. if you don’t like it or don’t want it, move to the suburbs, shop at big box store chain strip malls and enjoy sitting in your sprawl-induced traffic 5 hours a day!Report

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  8. InfraredGuy says:

    The Federal Highway trust fund was raided over years to pay for other projects just like all Federal funds with surplus’s are that’s al big part of why it’s emptyReport

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  9. InfraredGuy says:

    FYI not everyone works in Atlanta most are around the Perimeter which the Streetcar nor the Beltline will have any impact on. I know you believe that if you keep saying it makes great sense to throw billions more at the Beltline and Streetcar while the streets, sidewalks and sewer /water systems go to hell that you will convince yourself your right. The Streetcar is nothing more than another Rescue project that will operate until Federal funds dry up which will happen because 18 trillion plus in real debt and another 80 trillion in unfunded Federal obligations will catch up sooner or later but by then Reed and all his supporters will have moved on and the street, sidewalk and sewer problems will still be with youReport

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  10. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy WRONG; when the federal highway trust fund was enacted in the early 1950s the federal gas tax (which is the primary funding source of the HTF) was 3c/gallon; that’s 27c/gallon in 2015 dollars. right now, the federal gas tax is 18.3c/gallon and hasn’t been increased since the early 90s.

    the reason the HTF is insolvent is because 1) demographics have changed and people are moving to cities with public transit; 2) total miles driven per capita on an annual basis has leveled off and is starting to decrease and 3) resulting shortfalls in federal gas tax revenues are leading to decreased budgets for supporting, building and maintaining roads, bridges and highways; 

    this has forced states like georgia (with one of the lowest state gas tax rates in the US) to enact an excise tax to make up the difference, essentially directly passing on the cost to consumer goods and services and forcing people who may not drive to help make up the difference. it’s a giant scam. 

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/04/dot-vehicle-miles-driven-decreased-14.html 

    http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/the-federal-highway-trust-fund-past-present-and-future

    http://www.planetizen.com/node/75504

    so, please, enough with your conservative talking point bs “wasteful government” nonsense and do some actual research and analysis; this debate needs considerate, thoughtful and intelligent responses on all sides to determine the best solution for the City.Report

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  11. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy do you not understand that car-centric suburban sprawl and government subsidized roads, bridges and highways are imposing a $1trillion drag on the US economy ANNUALLY??? where is your outrage at the government for that amount of waste??? 

    http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2015/03/19/the-cost-of-sprawl-more-than-1-trillion-per-year-new-report-says/

    why are “liberal” cities such as new york, chicago and san francisco attracting so many educated entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and driving economic growth?Report

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  12. InfraredGuy says:

    Again, how will the Beltline solve or even help the traffic problem on 285 or any contested roadway? With the APS problems it’s not likely that people raising families will be moving down to the City just so they can jog on the Beltline or ride the Streetcarnot to mention the increase in home invasion and car break-insReport

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  13. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy  The Beltline isn’t supposed to nor is meant to be a solution to solving traffic problems on 285 or 400. It’s meant to increase the mobility and quality of life for people living in the City of Atlanta. ITP people don’t care about OTP people. 

    As far as I’m concerned, I hope it gets worse out there because constructing more roads, bridges and highway interchanges only induces demand for more traffic; widening roads or creating more doesn’t actually reduce traffic or decrease congestion. We’ve known this for years and years. It only makes traffic worse. 

    Honestly, i could care less about your traffic issues OTP, you and others choose to live there in the suburbs with car-centric suburban sprawl and, if you live in Cobb/Gwinnett, have also chosen to decline MARTA rail expansion for 40 years, so suffer the consequences. deal with it.  no one ITP cares!!!

    My issue here is that when the City of Atlanta’s population balloons by 60%-70% each week day because OTP commuters are driving into the City, so they should be forced to pay a heavy congestion tax to make up for all of the negative unintended consequences of driving into the city: accidents, fatalities, wasted time/money, more police, more road maintenance, etc. Otherwise, stay out in your suburbs, because you choosing to drive in is decreasing the quality of life for people that live in the City!!!

    The Beltline and the Streetcar projects all over the City are meant to increase mobility and quality of life for people living in the City; not OTP people because we don’t want you; please, just stay out!!!Report

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  14. InfraredGuy says:

    Great, us OTP people will let those residents of other States know that you ITP people don’t care if they visit or not, just send their share of the public funds to Washington so that your self serving gang can get your hands on it, I do however feel the fear in your comment that the gravy train of public money will run outReport

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  15. wadams1 says:

    @infaredguy you choose to live in sprawl, no one cares about OTP problems with traffic because you’re reaping what you and your residents have sowed for the last 40 years with car dependency.
    and don’t self righteously denounce federal funding for transit as a “gravy train of public money”; because again, honestly, what do you think that $1.1 billion interchange at 285/400 represents???
    it’s beyond pathetically hypocritical that OTP people demand federal funding for their roads, bridges and highways, yet don’t want to increase their taxes to pay for it and call alternative federal investments in rail-based infrastructure projects “wasteful”, all while new interchanges and highways over the years have done absolutely NOTHING to reduce congestion.
    honestly, how can you rationalize that viewpoint, it’s pathetic!!!Report

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  16. InfraredGuy says:

    Just remember in 2016 when your gal Hillary goes down in flames like Carter and Nunn did, the new Administration is going to pull the plug on a lot of these rescue projects like the StreetCar and Beltline because the money is just not there to keep funding people like you who’s only interest is what’s in it for me. Your choice will be much higher City taxes or watch the Streetcar gather dust in the maintenance barn while you dodge the potholes in the streets except for the street leading to the mayor’s friend Tyler Perry’ s place at Ft MacReport

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  17. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy you’re not very bright are you? 

    i’m as much as hillary fan as you are, probably less so. but the main difference between us is that i’m willing to pay higher taxes to the City of Atlanta to create a higher quality lifestyle that mitigates car dependency so we can start building a City for People, not exacerbating an already congested City for Cars! 

    All you seem to want, however, is a government handout of unlimited funds for car-centric roads and highway suburban sprawl, all without having to pay higher gas taxes required to build and maintain it. talk about “takers”, well there you go, supposedly conservative OTP folks. 

    so again, if you haven’t understood how pathetically hypocritical and ignorant your argument is, there’s really just no hope for you…i’m sorry.Report

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  18. mnst says:

    It’s time for us to get this built. Light rail streetcars on the Atlanta BeltLine is a huge part of how Atlanta’s going to manage all of the development that’s happening inside the city limits.

    I won’t vote for anyone running for office, from my neighborhood board to governor of this state, who doesn’t support this plan.Report

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  19. InfraredGuy says:

    mnst Good, just built it with Atlanta taxpayer money not National taxpayer money because no one in Casper Wyoming or any other out of State place cares a whit about Atlanta yuppies jogging, walking, biking, or drinking their latta’s while watching their dogs take a crap on the Beltline.Report

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  20. mnst says:

    InfraredGuy You guarantee that no federal money will be spent on new rural freeways promoting auto-centric development that harms public health, and you’ve got yourself a deal.Report

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  21. InfraredGuy says:

    wadams1 quick question, did you include the several hundred panhandlers and wino’s that hang out downtown in your 5.5 calculation number ?Report

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  22. InfraredGuy says:

    mnst Good again, just tell the Feds when you send in your check to not spend a dime on anything but the Atlanta projects, I am sure they will send you a itemized list of where every one of your pennies went, in the meantime start paying for your rides on the Streetcar, no reason for it to be free is there?Report

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  23. Bumblescrum says:

    To those who have a problem with building public transit, what in the world is wrong with you. If you have ever traveled to a well functioning city, either in the US or abroad. They all have something in common, good public transit. If you are okay with spending billions of dollars on more lanes leading down town, but hate the thought of lite rail…their is something wrong with your thought process.
    Adding more lanes to a highway in a city with major traffic is the equivalent of a doctor saying, you have a massive brain tumor, so we are going to fix it by taking out some of your brain so the tumor has space to grow. Sure the tumor isn’t causing a problem any more, but you are now retarding yourself and you still have the tumor.
    The city is wasting a billion dollars of tax payers money building a private lane from acworth to atlanta on 75, that will be tolled at 1$ a mile (even though it’s already being built with tax money) and there is no outrage over this??? Atlanta is failing as a city because it lacks density.
    Also, saying the beltline transit won’t improve traffic for people coming OTP is stupid…people ITP would now be using the public transit to move around downtown, keeping cars off the highway and surface streets allowing space for those who must commute.
    Lastly, anyone saying that the beltline is going to cause a huge increase in crime/break ins….it seems like this is a comment coming from a very bigoted mindset.Report

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  24. wadams1 says:

    Bumblescrum well said. We need to build a City for People, not a City for Cars. It’ll be safer, less dangerous, healthier, more fun, more enjoyable, less stressful and more interesting than inducing demand with more traffic lanes, more highways, more roads that are becoming increasingly cost prohibitive. building more roads and highways is the equivalent of loosening your belt to feel less fat; you’re still fat and are simply giving yourself more room to get even fatter, which is exactly what’s happened over the last 40 years in atlanta. 

    what really galls me about this debate is that you have anti-tax conservatives in the OTP suburbs who have refused transit solutions to help alleviate traffic (looking at you Cobb and Gwinnett), yet also refuse to raise federal and state gas taxes required to build and maintain costly billion dollar traffic-inducing sprawl from highways, interchanges and roads, but never cry “government waste” when the feds and gdot approve those projects. 

    i’m not going to sit here and say the atlanta streetcar is perfect, because it’s not…but for anti-transit, anti-train supposedly “fiscal conservatives” to cry foul over such “wasteful subsidies” for trains/light rail is to willfully ignore the billions of dollars of waste we already suffer from due to traffic congestion and suburban sprawl every year in atlanta.Report

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  25. thepritch says:

    We need MARTA to expand service out to areas that are seeing rapid growth. Like the building of the Lakeview/ Lakepoint Sports Complex they are building in Bartow County. There is even talk of a high tech theme park. Which we desperately need these jobs. Unfortunately these close minded, backwards thinking politicians are afraid that with the progress of bringing MARTA out here would bring in an unwanted criminal element, increase the homeless people, and change the small town charm. Most of these people that fight against it have never left Bartow County. Its difficult to get to the larger cities when you are disabled and are stuck in a small town, and unable to get specialized care only Atlanta offers. We need MARTA PLEASE!!!Report

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  26. wadams1 says:

    @thepritch Emory, Georgia Tech and the CDC need MARTA rail expansion more than Bartow County, I can assure you. But I like your enthusiasm for transit-based solutions.Report

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  27. InfraredGuy says:

    Bumblescrum I have never said the Beltline would cause a big increase in crime and break-ins, those already exist in the City but to say that the Beltline will have a measurable effect on traffic in Atlanta is pure speculation as is the same case for the Streetcar. If you have ever traveled down 75 or 85 in the morning, you will note that the traffic gets notably lighter once you pass 285 meaning that a lot of the traffic goes east or west not downtown. If the Streetcar was to improve travel and take cars off the streets, why was it not built to go from downtown to Buckhead? going from Centinela center to the MLK memorial was pure politics nothing to do with traffic.Report

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  28. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy  Part of the Beltline’s Streetcar expansion proposal is to have a streetcar run from Lenox Mall to Ft. McPherson along Peachtree Road, you’d have noticed that if you’d read the article. But again, to clarify, this entire project isn’t meant to accommodate OTP commuters and decrease traffic on 285, 75 or 85; it’s meant to make life more liveable and easier for people who LIVE IN THE CITY OF ATLANTA. There’s a reason you live OTP, stay out, we don’t want you or any of the “wildlings” that try to invade the City’s realm south of the “wall.” 

    Go away!!

    BumblescrumReport

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  29. InfraredGuy says:

    No problem with me staying away, I already do that and will do anything in my power to keep you dead beats from wasting more public money that comes from taxpayers ALL OVER THE US As for making life more live able for those in the City, sucking up public debt so you can cruise around on your bike is topical of the Liberal view of our money is our money and so is your money our money get a life loser and quit sucking off the tit of hardworking peopleReport

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  30. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy I’m a registered republican, for the record, but regardless of politics….you’ve shown a frightening ability to be completely wrong at each and every incoherent rant you post. it’s actually you, by living in the suburbs who is “wasting public money” and “sucking up public debt” by requiring the construction of more highways and roads and “sucking off the tit of hardworking people.” 

    please read: 

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/03/05/sprawl-costs-the-public-more-than-twice-as-much-as-compact-development/ 

    i’m not trying to disparage, i’m trying to educate you. but you can’t fix stupid, can you?Report

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  31. InfraredGuy says:

    Sure your a Republican but be that as it is your just another defender of projects put forth as the savior of Atlanta while the basics go to hell. No one in private Industry would spend stock holder money like the City politicians do without a revolt but when the Majority voter base only is low information types and only about 5 to 10 percent show up at the polls, the politicians know they can get away with it. You think you have all the answers but what you really are good at is excuses when the grand plan goes toes upReport

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  32. wadams1 says:

    InfraredGuy so i guess there’s really just no hope for you to understand that spending this money in the City to increase mobility and transit ITP is, on principle, no different than spending just as much OTP to “increase traffic flow” by building highway interchanges and roads for people OTP. it’s the same money, coming from the same place…it’s just going to a different mode of transportation in a different area that you just happen to arbitrarily disagree with for no other reason than you’re just obviously not very bright. i’m sorry.Report

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  33. InfraredGuy says:

    Good to know your a genius to bad the Mayors office is full up with them already or I am sure they would be calling you on your Obama phoneReport

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  34. Burroughston Broch says:

    wadams1 InfraredGuy  Bumblescrum  Why build a Streetcar from Lenox Square to Fort McPherson that duplicates the existing MARTA heavy rail? It makes no sense to me. Perhaps you can explain.Report

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  35. wadams1 says:

    Burroughston Broch wadams1 InfraredGuy  Bumblescrum great question! well, personally and first of all, i think for the streetcars to ultimately be effective at reducing congestion and increasing mobility of in town residents along this corridor, they’ll have to run on separated, dedicated tracks, in their own lanes that are unencumbered by car traffic. otherwise it’ll just be another MARTA bus and it’ll fail miserably. 

    why build a streetcar from lenox to fort mcpherson? essentially, the idea here is to have access to walkable, bikeable communities and the expansion of transit will enhance business development and increase property values, as you’re already seeing along the eastside beltline trail around O4W and inman park. and they want to connect the north end and south end of the beltline. this is a street-level effort. 

    and this should be done for a number of reasons: there are far more population, job and dense development centers along peachtree road/west peachtree that would benefit greatly from more foot traffic courtesy of a few more stops aboard the streetcar that MARTA simply cannot provide for as it has a finite number of stops. additionally, there are many new condos/apartments, ga state and ga tech buildings being planned and built along the route, all of which will necessitate some kind of mass transit effort to avoid a complete traffic congestion meltdown. 

    dense, urban development is what’s happening all over the city, but especially in buckhead, midtown and neighborhoods near downtown, so more transit is the solution, not more parking decks and cars.  

    the problem with MARTA, however, is how it was initially structured financially in the 1960s. ga state lawmakers (lester maddox, segregationists, car lobbyists, etc) essentially handicapped it, preventing it from receiving state funding and passed harsh laws dictating how it was able to spend its 1% dekalb/fulton sales tax revenue, again preventing it from being able to make large capital investments in new stations, more lines, more cars, etc. thus, it’s had to consistently increase fares to help meet operating costs, making it one of the most expensive transit systems in the US at $2.50/ride…which, until recently, had led to declining ridership, decreased budgets…almost insolvency. luckily, keith parker has done a good job at helping decreasing corruption, frivolous spending and making the system more efficient and has gotten back into the black. 

    again, i would be hesitant to support large capital investments in a project of this size if the streetcars were constructed within traffic like the downtown loop from centennial park to the mlk memorial…but it’s a start. 

    you essentially have two decisions: continue waste more time and more money stressing yourself out in traffic or invest money to mitigate and prevent those traffic problems in the long-term. because the thing is, we’ve already been wasting billions of dollars as a city/region, and more than $1 trillion collectively nationwide every year due to traffic congestion and suburban sprawl…so, if you really believe the idea that these transit projects are somehow too expensive or are fiscally irresponsible, you’re simply not being serious enough to have an honest, genuine debate.Report

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  36. InfraredGuy says:

    Burroughston Broch wadams1 InfraredGuy  Bumblescrum Maybe it gives Tyler Perry and his friends a quick way to go shopping without fighting the trafficReport

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  37. Burroughston Broch says:

    wadams1 Burroughston Broch InfraredGuy  Bumblescrum  “essentially, the idea here is to have access to walkable, bikeable communities and the expansion of transit will enhance business development and increase property values”

    There is no reason to duplicate with streetcars what already exists with heavy rail and buses. Streetcars are slower than both buses and heavy rail. Adjust the bus routes and both the bus and heavy rail schedules, and save $ billions.
    Why do you maintain walkable, bikeable communities cannot be served by buses as well as streetcars?
    And why do you maintain that streetcars will enhance business development and increase property values more than buses?
    You seem dazzled by the streetcar mystique. Just remember they will be old hat and out of favor long before the billions of bonds to construct them are amortized.
    I like to ride streetcars too, but not when they cost me too much money.Report

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  38. InfraredGuy says:

    Burroughston Broch Well said, but not PC enough for the StreetCar crowd and who cares about the billions in City bond debt, that problem falls on the next generation just like the Federal debtReport

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  39. wadams1 says:

    Burroughston Broch walkable, bikeable communities cannot be served by buses BECAUSE BUSES ARE TRAFFIC; like i’ve said before, the streetcars need their dedicated lanes that unencumbered by car traffic to be successful, hopefully with the addition of bike lanes. 

    but more importantly, why do you not complain when the bankrupt FEDS/GDOT subsidize billions in highways, interchanges and road projects that only induce demand for more traffic and exacerbate sprawl and waste huge amounts of time and money? 

    why not complain about that “government waste”? because that’s exactly what it is! look how inefficient 285 or 400 northbound is at rush hour!! i mean, honestly…you want more of that? you think that’s been successful, you think that’s been a good investment? 

    the way we’ve designed the City so far is costing taxpayers twice as much: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2015/03/05/sprawl-costs-the-public-more-than-twice-as-much-as-compact-development/  and the flat-out refusal of drivers to pay higher gas taxes needed to maintain and build more roads, bridges and highways is proof of how compeltely ignorant people are to the costs of car-centric suburban sprawl. 

    why not invest money in redesigning how we live to save ourselves money in the long-run? the idea that we waste $1 trillion a year due to suburban sprawl and traffic congestion seems to be lost on you. so any supposed concern it is you have over public debt rings pretty hollow, i’m sorry. 

    i mean, just logically, does it pass the common sense test to have each of the City’s 5.5 million people all get in their cars and drive and park everywhere? that’s just brainlessly inefficient and inane. it’s pathetic.Report

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  40. Burroughston Broch says:

    wadams1 Burroughston Broch  “like i’ve said before, the streetcars need their dedicated lanes that unencumbered by car traffic to be successful, hopefully with the addition of bike lanes. ”
    Other than on the Beltline, obtaining dedicated rights of way inside the City will add $ billions to the cost and years of eminent domain litigation to the process. Best abandon that thought.
    By the way, the City’s population was estimated at 448,000 in 2013 while the Atlanta MSA was estimated at 5,490,000. The City’s population was barely 8% of the Metro population then and is perhaps even less now. Perhaps this will help you understand why the vast majority of people in Metro Atlanta don’t care about the Streetcar and don’t want to pay for it.Report

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  41. Publicus says:

    Publicus   The Streetcar is the most wasteful project imaginable. Also, in all the discussion above no one is mentioning the ugly, expensive overhead wires.  The artists depict the wires with a very thin pencil line.  The reality is very different.  There are also the poles that hold up these ugly wires, they cant be used for power or anything else.  If you put them in front of the Fox Theatre, for example, you will have to cut down all the beautiful trees and have all these poles and wires where presently there are none.  This transportation can be taken care of with fuel efficient/electric buses.  Far less costly.  Atlanta figured this out back in the 1950’s.  They stopped having the streetcars and went to trolleys with wheels that used the overhead ugly wire system.  Atlanta finally figured out that the overhead wires were ugly and difficult to maintain so Atlanta went to buses.  This system is a wasteful regression dreamed up by someone with a rail fetish and not a care in the world for taxpayers.Report

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