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Beltline vs. The Streetcar

August 23, 2010

Creative Loafing came out with an article on Saturday regarding the latest round of TIGER grants. The article talks about the Beltline’s announcement on Friday that they were pulling their application for funds to “yield” to the city’s streetcar application. Supporters of the Beltline are now up in arms and infuriated over this turn of events.

I personally think the streetcar is a stronger project at this point. They have guaranteed operating funds for twenty years, the federally required minimum to qualify for funds, and it has the backing of the city, downtown businesses, and even received a letter of endorsement from GDOT. Further, twenty million in local funds has been designated to the project, showing local commitment and making it a strong application. I just don’t think the Beltline was there.

For starters, the Beltline did not notify the ARC that they were making an application for the funds until after the deadline had passed, which they are required to do. Then the Beltline folks came to an organization I volunteer with a week before the application was due to ask for a letter of endorsement, whereas the streetcar folks came two months ahead of time. We couldn’t accommodate them because of the time needed to get the necessary approvals, but I wasn’t inclined to anyways.

Requesting endorsements a week ahead of time hardly seems professional or gives the appearance that you were prepared. Granted, we approached sister organizations for letters of support for the streetcar at the same time, but that was our faux pas. The Beltline will still be applying for some planning and HUD funds which they have a good chance at being awarded, but I agree with the unified front of the city and I think we should only send strong applications in.

The Beltline is a good project. I don’t think it’s the amazing saviour of the city people taut it as and they make fools out of themselves at times, like in the Buckhead Reporter. The Reporter recently ran an article in which the Beltline was stated to have transit in six or seven years, but they don’t know what type yet. Awfully optimistic; they’re going to do it! They don’t know what they’re going to do, but by golly, it’ll get done. Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

The streetcar isn’t perfect either, it’s a touristy line catering to business. It won’t move a bunch of natives, but it’s a good start at showing Atlanta what transit can be. It’ll clean up the area, make the interstate underpass safe, and be shiny new example of good transit to a city that looks down it’s nose at public transportation, which, if executed well, will help the Beltline. And they do intend to accommodate bicyclists. It could be the best step forward in transit we can take and lead to further advancements for Atlanta.

Sorry Beltline fans, but good luck to the streetcar!

(updated 8/24/2010 8:00 PM)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Engineer permalink
    August 25, 2010 2:15 pm

    Yes, it is truly genius to place a streetcar line in the same path as the MARTA rail. Doesn’t the Peach bus line that operates on Peachtree already have low ridership? In order for transit to work, the area served has to be enlarged and the frequency of service has to be increased (20 minutes between arrivals, for instance). Money would be better spent supporting operating costs for the transit agency.

    • CCTgirl permalink*
      August 25, 2010 2:23 pm

      TIGER funds can’t be used for operation expenses. The streetcar has the opportunity to show a city that spends all of its time looking down on public transportation what transit can and should be. This could help the Beltline and other projects down the road. And don’t forget that this line is a part of Concept Three, the regions adopted transit plan. But we need to rally behind this project so that it has the impact to propel Atlanta to a sustainable future.


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