Jun 3, 2022 - News

Atlanta Council considers Amtrak at Centennial Yards

Illustration of a railroad sign shaped like a peach.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

City Hall leaders want Amtrak to have a prime spot at Centennial Yards in Downtown, reviving a transit vision for a massive development that’s poised to bring thousands of residents, travelers and workers to the historic city center.

Why it matters: Atlanta was founded as a railroad hub — and remains a vital focal point for freight traffic. But currently, catching a train out of Amtrak’s quaint Brookwood station makes passenger rail inconvenient for many travelers.

  • President Biden’s administration, himself an avid fan of Amtrak, is bullish on boosting and building out a passenger rail network — and Atlanta is part of that vision.

Catch up quick: Centennial Yards — the 50-acre mini-city proposed for the expanse of asphalt and railroad tracks near Mercedes-Benz Stadium that’s lovingly known as The Gulch — could add more than 8 million square feet of apartments, hotel rooms and offices to South Downtown.

  • Previous plans for the area included a multimodal terminal and office that would serve passenger rail and buses and would link to the Five Points and Georgia World Congress Center stations.

The old development deal fell apart, and then-Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration said the project wasn’t a priority. Discussions have since focused on building a station near Armour Yard north of Piedmont Heights.

Details: Councilperson Jason Dozier, who represents the area, says the $5 billion Centennial Yards, Newport’s South Downtown eight-block overhaul, Underground Atlanta and the Five Points rebuild are moving quickly. With the area’s history, location, and density, it makes sense.

  • Passenger rail could help Atlantans reduce plane and automobile travel, minimizing both their and the city’s carbon footprints, Dozier says.

What they’re saying: If the Gulch isn’t a good fit, Dozier’s fine with a station at Armour Yards. He sees the expanded relationship with Amtrak as an opportunity to learn about potential pitfalls and hammer out a plan.

“The fact that Amtrak isn't at the table having those conversations with us to share their concerns, opportunities and wishes, it feels like we're debating these things in a bit of a vacuum,” he says.

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