Streetcar extension to Beltline’s Eastside Trail hits stumbling block

Mayor Kasim Reed’s hopes of connecting the Atlanta Streetcar to the Beltline will have to wait, for now.

The city lost its bid for $29.3 million in federal transportation money that Reed hoped would fund an extension of the streetcar system to the greenspace project’s Eastside Trail. It also sought funds to build a multi-use path on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Instead, grants worth $500 million were awarded to projects in 34 states Thursday, including $15 million to double an existing streetcar system in Tacoma, Washington. Georgia was passed over entirely in this round of funding. Atlanta has previously won two TIGER grants.

It's not immediately clear why Atlanta wasn't selected, or if it's related to the project's well-documented safety and security troubles. The streetcar system, which opened last December after several delays, has endured staffing turmoil, blistering audits, a security breach and drew the ire of federal transit authorities for "continuing concerns with the safety and operation" of the system. City officials have since hired a third party to temporarily manage the project.

To learn more about how Atlanta leaders say they'll pursue the streetcar expansion, visit myAJC.com.