Atlanta approves Streetcar expansion plan

The Atlanta City Council has approved a new Streetcar System Plan, which includes five crosstown routes in addition to 22 miles of streetcar service along the Beltline.

All totaled, the plan consists of a 50-plus mile streetcar system throughout the city. The document will serve as a framework for a potential Fulton County referendum in 2016 seeking approval from voters to impose an additional penny or fractional penny sales tax to fund transportation projects. Having the plan in place also enables the city to apply for large scale federal transportation funding.

The Atlanta Streetcar System Plan is the culmination of a multiyear effort that was undertaken with considerable public input.

“Atlanta is a city that brings people together and connects them to opportunities,” said Councilmember Andre Dickens, ABI Board member and sponsor of the legislation said in a press release. “The Atlanta Streetcar System Plan is a 50 mile system that connects Atlanta’s people to jobs, vibrant neighborhoods and world-class entertainment opportunities. This plan, when implemented, will solidify our city’s commitment to improving social equity and increasing economic mobility for all of our citizens.”

The official plan approved on Tuesday also deletes a proposed route that would have put streetcars on Peachtree Road, from the Lindbergh MARTA station to Lenox Square.

Councilman Howard Shook, who represents much of Buckhead, asked that the leg be eliminated. The request came after recent controversy erupted over adding bike lanes to Peachtree, a proposal that drew the ire of area residents who didn't want to share the road and forced GDOT to scrap the idea.

Adding streetcars would have posed a similar problem, since the trolleys travel in traffic.

"We know from previous analysis and discussion that a lot more thought needs to be put into this," said Shook in a city press release. "The day may come when the public will support sharing precious Peachtree Road capacity with streetcars, but today isn't it."

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