Sep 12, 2022 - News

MARTA to provide update on Streetcar East Extension project

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

If you have any questions or concerns about how rail transit should run along the Beltline Eastside Trail, speak now or forever hold your peace.

What's happening: Roughly 20 years after Atlanta first heard about a little project called the Beltline, MARTA's entering the final design stages of a $176 million streetcar line that runs alongside the path.

  • MARTA will hold in-person and virtual meetings tonight and tomorrow to update the public about the extension.

Catch up quick: In 2016, Atlanta voters approved a sales tax to build new transit in the city. On the project list: cash to connect the Beltline's western and eastern segments using a streetcar running through the heart of the city.

  • The proposed extension of the Downtown streetcar on the Beltline would start at Irwin Street near Krog Street Market and run north to Ponce City Market. It could open for service by 2027, MARTA says.

Details: MARTA planners are wrapping up preliminary engineering studies and will soon prepare the final project design.

  • On tap for tonight are updates about the finer details: the look and feel of stations, trees, and how the sleek vehicle will coexist with the flood of bicyclists, joggers and bar crawlers who regularly use the Eastside Trail.

The big question: Launched in late 2014, the figure-eight Downtown streetcar loop has failed to attract riders and spur mixed-use development.

  • Transit officials can avoid repeating history by reducing wait times, running the streetcars in a dedicated lane and giving the vehicles priority at traffic signals, says Matthew Rao of transit advocacy group Beltline Rail Now.

What's next: Be sure to register for the meetings. Masks are required for tonight's in-person meeting at Dad's Garage.


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