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Does the Beltline make sense? 

Would the Beltline solve inner city transit woes? I can't decide yet. But we all know that getting around metro Atlanta is a major problem.

The forward-looking politicians who run our state have dilly-dallied over commuter rail since I was old enough to carry a notebook around the Capitol (and that was a long time ago). Now, the Department of Transportation board is looking for an excuse to kill a commuter line (south to Lovejoy).

And while Gov. Perdue seems as if he might help MARTA, the bailout could come at a big expense: It may hand control to exurban politicians who'll stretch transit out to the 'burbs while starving inner-city service.

We have the same pitiful history with light rail and trolleys within the city. I can think of nine light rail and trolley proposals over the last decade that have languished. Or died. While other cities roll along on trolley and dedicated bus lines, none have even been initiated here.

The unfulfilled dreams keep piling up because of the state's lack of funding and support. But it doesn't help that intown leaders haven't developed a consensus around, and stuck with, one great idea.

The idea du jour is the Beltline -- a trolley, path and ring of parks that would run along a 22-mile loop on old railroad right of ways just a couple of miles outside downtown. Over the next month or so, CL will cover the Beltline debate extensively. On Sept. 7, we'll dedicate our Political Party talk show at Dad's Garage to the subject. Check this space or my blog at www.whatarewefor.com to keep up with and contribute to the conversation.

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