State gives Atlanta two weeks to address streetcar problems

State officials this week gave Atlanta extra time to submit plans to address problems with the city’s troubled streetcar, but they also renewed their threat to shut it down if those plans don’t pass muster.

In a letter dated Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Transportation gave the City of Atlanta and MARTA until June 28 to comply with its request for plans to address a slew of problems uncovered in recent audits.

Last month GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry set a June 14 deadline for the city and MARTA to address 60 problems ranging from poor maintenance procedures and inadequate staffing to a failure to properly investigate accidents. McMurry also threatened to shut down streetcar operations if those plans are not deemed adequate.

On Tuesday city officials submitted plans to fix 41 of the problems and asked for another month to address the others. It also asked GDOT to withdraw its threat to shut down the streetcar.

On Wednesday GDOT gave Atlanta an extra two weeks – not four – and refused to back away from its threat to shut down the streetcar. GDOT said it “may order the Atlanta streetcar to immediately cease operations” if the safety concerns are not adequately addressed.

Meanwhile, GDOT is reviewing the more than 2,500 pages of records the city has already submitted – a process expected to take at least 10 days.

Atlanta and MARTA share responsibility for the $98 million downtown streetcar, which opened in December 2014. But state and federal law requires GDOT to oversee its safety and security.

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