City to study new streetcar routes connecting to Georgia Tech, Beltline

Invest Atlanta allocates $1.4 million to fund routes connecting rail transit to Georgia Tech, Beltline’s Eastside Trail

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  • Invest Atlanta
  • Studies funded by Invest Atlanta would plan for 1W (red), 1E (green), and part of 2 (blue) streetcar lines on above map

Despite the failure of last summer’s transportation tax vote, the city is taking steps to expand Atlanta’s streetcar network that could connect more than just tourists, students, residents, and workers between Centennial Olympic Park and the King Center.

This morning, Invest Atlanta’s board approved doling out more than $1.4 million to Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit that plans and develops the 22-mile loop of parks, trails, and transit, to pay for studies to expand the city’s streetcar network to North Avenue and the Beltline’s Eastside Trail in the Old Fourth Ward. (Here’s a handy fact-sheet.)

The board of the city’s economic development agency also OK’ed funding to study a possible east-west streetcar line along North Avenue, Northside Drive, and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. The route would offer riders access to MARTA’s Bankhead and North Avenue stations. (Here’s another handy fact-sheet.)

Cash for the studies comes from the Westside and Eastside Tax Allocation Districts, or TADs. The financial programs are designed to redevelop blighted areas by issuing bonds which are paid off with increases in property tax revenue.

The studies of the proposed routes, parts of which you might recognize from last summer’s T-SPLOST project list, only cover the projects’ environmental assessment. However, once complete, the two projects could become more competitive for federal funds. A Beltline spokesman says the studies are expected to take approximately two years to complete.

After the jump, we put on a fancy-looking tinfoil hat we made while sitting through days of Atlanta Falcons stadium meetings and stone-cold speculate about why the project is moving along.