In Support of Atlanta’s Streetcar Proposal

Yesterday, we featured a post from Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic about Atlanta's decision to put a streetcar project in line for federal TIGER funds before another local transit proposal known as the Beltline. Yonah argued that the Beltline -- a ring of recreational amenities and transit features that would circle the city -- was the more innovative of the two projects. He questioned whether the city would be able to move forward with such an ambitious idea while simultaneously pouring resources into a streetcar downtown.

AtlantaStreetcar5Budapest.jpgAn artist's rendering of a streetcar in Atlanta. Image: SkyScraperPage forum

Today, we offer a counterpoint from CCTgirl at MARTA Rocks!, who thinks the streetcar project is the right choice. CCTgirl doesn't oppose the Beltway, but says the concept is simply not advanced enough to be a compelling candidate for federal funding right now:

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, $20 million has been designated to the project, showing local commitment and making it a strong application. I just don’t think The Beltline was there.

The Beltline is a good project. I don’t think it’s the amazing savior of the city people tout it as and they make fools out of themselves at times, like in the recent 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...

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 a shiny new example of good transit to a city that looks down its 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.

Thanks to both bloggers for highlighting the arguments for two important transit proposals. In the end, the biggest lingering question may be whether we'd be having this debate if federal investment in transit was more robust.

Elsewhere on the Network today, Indigo Country, White City breaks down the media reaction to the death of a cycling advocate in South Carolina; Sprawled Out looks at a new study linking sprawl to the loss of social capital; and PA Walks & Bikes celebrates the news that walking and biking projects will be spared from transportation cuts caused by the loss of federal funding in Pennsylvania.