Work crews install the first 80-foot sections of track for the Atlanta Streetcar project on Edgewood Avenue on March 6, 2013. After a year of preliminary work underground, streetcar creation is under way, expected to open to traffic by spring 2014. It's been exactly 100 years since Atlanta's streetcar sprawl peaked and started to retract, now the wave is set to swell again.
The board of Atlanta’s development authority on Tuesday approved a total of $1.4 million for Atlanta BeltLine Inc. to study expansions of the city’s streetcar network, the first leg of which is expected to be operational next year.
Invest Atlanta’s board authorized the grants from the Eastside and Westside Tax Allocation District funds to pay for “planning, environmental and design activities” to get the proposed projects to the point of competing for federal funding. The study money would be just a small fraction of any cost to build streetcar extensions.
The lines to be studied are similar to ones pitched as part of the BeltLine transit portion of the broader regional transportation sales tax, or T-SPLOST. That referendum of more than $8 billion in projects failed in metro Atlanta last year.
Among the studied routes would be a “crosstown” streetcar link between the eastern and western ends of the BeltLine to the Bankhead and North Avenue MARTA stations. The routes also would link a North Avenue line to the Atlanta Streetcar at Centennial Olympic Park and expand the current route to the east.