Downtown streetcar construction on track

By Gregory Wallace

Work continues toward the completion of the Atlanta Streetcar in Downtown in late 2013. The East-West route, currently under construction, will run 2.7 miles beginning at the King Center and following Edgewood Avenue to Centennial Olympic Park before looping back around via Auburn Avenue. The route will provide a total of 12 stops that will connect major tourist destinations and local business alike.

The streetcars themselves are state of the art, low floor vehicles, powered by a single overhead electric trolley wire. The vehicle maintenance station for the streetcars will be located under the I-75/85 overpass along Edgewood Avenue.

Much work remains to be done on the project, according to City of Atlanta senior transportation advisor Tom Weyandt. One example cited by Weyandt: over 15,000 utility lines of varying types must be cleared or rerouted from the path of the rail line. Fortunately, the nature of the city’s contract with URS, the company building the line, allowed them to begin construction while design details were still being finalized. This greatly accelerated the process, as evidenced by the construction present along the future route.

The project has attracted enormous interest from both the corporate world and the local community. New ownership has taken over the Equitable Building along Peachtree Street in anticipation of the streetcars, and Waffle House plans to add a key location on the Centennial Park side of the route. There project is already generating “tremendous foot traffic” for local businesses, said Weyandt. “From the Purple Door Salon to Harold’s Pizza, the whole area is being completely revitalized,” he commented.

The ultimate goal of the project is to close the transportation gap between Downtown and the Atlanta BeltLine with the initial phase including a direct connection between the streetcars and the Peachtree Center MARTA Station. “As it expands,” said Weyandt, “we’re providing increased connectivity, and increased opportunities for educational institutions, jobs, and so on.”

The streetcar project is a collaborative public-private partnership between the City of Atlanta, MARTA, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, the Federal Transit Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

To keep up with the progress of the streetcar project, visit atlantadowntown.com.

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