Oct 19, 2023 - News

Beltline transit advocates rally the rail supporters

A rendering of a paved path called the Eastside Trail with people walking near a streetcar stop at Ponce City Market

A rendering of how rail transit and the Beltline Eastside Trail could look. Rendering: Courtesy of MARTA

Beltline transit supporters say a new effort to derail a proposed streetcar line on the Eastside Trail smacks of NIMBYism and could increase traffic in an ever-growing Atlanta.

What's happening: Beltline Rail Now is launching a campaign, yard signs and all, to show and win support for the long-planned transit line connecting the Downtown Streetcar to the popular paved trail and north to Ponce City Market.

Details: In a recent statement, BRN said the newly formed Better Atlanta Transit's alternate idea for transit along the trail — micro-mobility like bikes, scooters and skateboards — "are great for able-bodied people on a nice day if they don't have far to go, but they do not represent a serious form of mass transit."

What they're saying: "The opponents' stated goal is to limit the Beltline to what they believe it should be, a linear park," BRN said.

  • "If successful, access would be limited to those who have the financial means to live near the Eastside Trail or the capability to get there in cars, further compounding existing traffic problems."

The other side: "Given the significant public money involved, we believe this issue requires a thorough public debate and an examination of all transit options for the Beltline and throughout the city," Billy Linville, BAT's spokesperson, told Axios.

Of note: The anti-rail organization's founding advisory board members include influential civic leaders and academics like lawyer Sharon Gay, professor Mike Dobbins and former housing authority director Renee Glover.

  • However, the group is a 501(c)(4) and is not required to disclose its funders.

State of play: MARTA is continuing design work on the proposed transit line.

  • Unless the city says to change course, the agency is moving ahead on building rail.

The big picture: The debate will measure the influence of transit advocates, resident groups, and the city's influential civic and business communities — some of which overlap.

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