Atlanta Gets $47 Million Streetcar Grant

Good transit news for Atlanta?  Is this some sort of bizarro world?

According to the AJC, Representative John Lewis and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have stated that Atlanta will be awarded $47 million in grant money to build a streetcar line from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center.  The grant is $9 million less than the original $56 million that was originally requested by the city, but still seen as a major victory for Atlanta after the absolute failure to get any money for a Peachtree streetcar the last time grant money was doled out.

What we changed is, I followed the plan to Washington,” [Atlanta Mayor] Reed said. “I don’t want to say the squeaky wheel gets the grease, but the squeaky wheel gets grease.” Franklin congratulated him and others in an e-mail she titled “EUREKA!” — and noted that he “picked up the baton.”

Reed said the project would transform downtown. His office has estimated the project would create 5,200 jobs over 20 years and would not only help ease downtown traffic problems but also help the city compete for more tourism and convention business.

Map courtesy of the City of Atlanta via the AJC

16 thoughts on “Atlanta Gets $47 Million Streetcar Grant”

  1. This sounds like a winner project to me! I will be a happy rider, can’t wait till it’s built and operating. And, yes, the jobs created in its construction and in the shopping development along its route should be a real boost for Atlanta.

  2. Some one commented in the AJC article that downtown Atlanta was a lot like Portland’s Pearl District pre-streetcar. Can anyone with both points of reference comment on that?

    If so, I can’t wait for downtown to get its own Patagonia and Whole Foods! 😉 (Don’t worry, I just renewed my yuppie membership for the year, so I’m allowed to make such statements.)

    1. Wow, that would be me. I worked in downtown Portland for a couple of years, pre-trolley era. Of course, I was just a todder then. 🙂 It was definitely funky urban, post-industrial, a little run down. The Northwest area, a gay and young people’s mecca, was already developing some neat coffeeshops, bars, and restaurants but not downtown yet. The area right around city hall and Powell’s bookstore had promise but I never heard the area referred to as the “Pearl District”. I can see some similarities to downtown Atlanta but I wouldn’t say the two have the same feel. Portland always felt more funky, outdoorsy, artsy, progressive, even when it wasn’t doing all that great economically. The poverty one saw in downtown Portland was more young, drug addict, mostly white men as opposed to the minority family poverty in downtown Atlanta. IMHO, downtown Atlanta has a much bigger challenge if wants to become a fun, eclectic, downtown area. Not sure it can do it in a recession. Portland had a couple of decades of prosperity to its advantage. Pus the natural beauty of the area with the Columbia and Williamette Rivers and the views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens (on the few clear days!).

  3. Shouldn’t the first streetcar connect downtown and midtown so people will actually use it? How often do people go to The King Center from Olympic Park?

    1. Bb, I hate to sound so jaded and cynical, but… I can’t help but think that the primary reason this was funded (and so many other commute-related projects were not) has something to do with the fact that it’s the King Center…

      1. Georgia State has a growing student population near the Old Fourth Ward. They should benefit if this is priced right.

        It might make more sense to operate in the opposite direction, so that students could get up the hill (towards classes in 5 Points) in the morning…everyone is running late in the morning, correct?

        Edgewood is The bike commuter route into downtown from Decatur/Candler Park/Inman Park/Reynoldstown, so I hope they don’t try to displace the bike routes with trolley tracks.

        1. This project would essentially duplicate the Georgia State Panther Shuttle now in service, so, on second thought, I don’t see much benefit to students.

  4. Does anyone know if the streetcar will actually be on rails? Or will it just be buses that look like street cars.

  5. Nope, same Atlanta. Maybe it is bad news in disguise. It all depends on your interest in (or potential gain from) transforming Peachtree Street. You might say this uses largely public money for little public return.

  6. This seems almost perfectly designed to serve the massive homeless population in downtown ATL. Now they can commute from their camps along Edgewood near the overpass to their daytime activities in Centennial and Woodruff Parks.

    “Reed said the project would…help the city compete for more tourism”


    1. The Park Service has created a tidy little tourist attraction around the King Center. A trolley is a logical way to feed visitors from the Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and the proposed Center for Human Rights, near the Olympic Park, to this area. The King Center is of great interest to visitors, if not local residents.

      Retail, food, and entertainment establishments in The Old Fourth Ward were getting traction before the recession and the recent advent of on-street parking meters. More variety in the mix of residents, homeless people, and visitors than ever before.

  7. I hate to sound like a Debbie downer here, and I do hope that it works, but will this be practical and useful? I could see where it would be a new fangled streetcar project and look kind of cool, but will people really be using it?

    I traveled a few months ago to San Fran, and the cable cars were cool, but when you’re a tourist on a time budget, taxis are just much more practical. I would assume convention folks would probably feel the same.

    It would be nice if this were something that would be practical for a larger group in the city. This is a very specific area and I don’t see a broad group being able to make use of it. But who knows, if it catches on, maybe they will consider putting them other places. We’ll see

    1. One of the nation’s first electric street car systems connected Inman Park and downtown. Who knows, if this is successful it could easily be extended to other neighborhoods.

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