Sep 13, 2023 - News

Beltline kicks off transit planning on remaining segments

A map of the Atlanta Beltline with the northwest, southwest and southeast segments where officials will study transit shaded blue

Map: Courtesy of Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The Beltline is taking a major step toward deciding where its future streetcars could run through Grant Park, the West End and Buckhead.

What's happening: Project officials are kicking off a two-year planning process to study the transit line's "preferred alignment" — in other words, where the tracks would make the most sense — and station locations along a 13.6-mile segment of the project.

Why it matters: Transit planning takes time and involves generational decisions about where hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure should be built.

  • Those decisions affect property values, community development, access to jobs, schools, medical care and the city's future growth.

Zoom in: The northwest segment stretches from Lindbergh Center MARTA Station on the north side of the Beltline loop to the Bankhead MARTA Station.

  • The southwestern and southeastern quadrants — where the alignment has already been selected, Beltline officials said — stretch to Glenwood Avenue.

State of play: The planning phase gets underway as MARTA advances plans to expand the Downtown Streetcar to the Eastside Trail and north to Ponce City Market.

What they're saying: "Transit is at the heart of the Beltline vision," Beltline President and CEO Clyde Higgs said in a statement. "The Beltline is about high-quality ways to connect people to jobs, health care, shopping, education, and opportunity while making Atlanta a more mobile city. Rail transit is key to how we do that."

The other side: Hans Klein, a Georgia Tech policy professor and member of a coalition opposed to Beltline rail along the Eastside Trail, told Axios that the group remains skeptical and thinks transit funding could be better spent elsewhere.

The bottom line: The planning process is a "necessary next step" to prime the Beltline for transit construction and to pull down federal funding, Matthew Rao of transit advocacy group Beltline Rail Now told Axios.

What's next: Beltline officials will hold a virtual information session and Q&A on Monday, Sept. 25 at 6:30pm on Zoom — here's the registration link — and Facebook.

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