Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Streetcar, Beltline, MARTA improvements top Atlanta's transportation-tax wishlist

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 1:15 PM

Today's the deadline for cities and counties to submit the road, bridge and transit projects they'd like to see funded by the one-cent sales tax voters will decide in 2012.

We just got our hands on Atlanta's official list, which you can download here.

Among the proposed projects:

>> First on the list is the most expensive — and one we've known about for some time. The city wants $1.1 billion to design, construct and operate what's listed as the "Atlanta Beltline Streetcar Circulator," which actually includes several transit projects.

UPDATE, 2:41 p.m. Beltline officials say that includes transit along both the west and east sides of the project. Along the $2.8 billion project's western side, transit would snake from the Oakland City MARTA station to North Avenue and then venture intown to the North Avenue MARTA station. A spur line would travel south on Luckie Street and connect to the downtown streetcar near Centennial Olympic Park.

On the Beltline's eastern side, transit would basically link Armour Yard near Lindbergh to Glenwood Park. Spurs would head intown at 10th Street, North or Ponce de Leon avenues, and Irwin Street. The latter spur would link to the downtown streetcar near the King Center. Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit group tasked with designing the proposed 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit, will decide the final alignment, so some details could change.

(Another proposal to connect the Beltline to the Arts Center via Atlantic Station was dismissed because of possible construction and engineering issues near Howell Junction, which is like the downtown connector for freight trains. What's more, Cobb County had already proposed a light-rail project linking Cumberland Mall to the Arts Center. That line would pass through Atlantic Station. The city opted to support that project.)

>> Second is "MARTA State of Good Repair." The city's asking for $1 billion for capital improvements to bring the metro region's largest transit agency's infrastructure into a state of good repair. This might sound ho-hum, but remember: MARTA was partly built with federal funding. If metro Atlanta wants to keep receiving federal dollars, it needs to maintain Washington, D.C.'s investment.

>> Pedestrian advocates, motorists and engineers will be pleased to know the city wants $922 million to start chipping away at its backlog of broken sidewalks, potholes and bridges. Mayor Kasim Reed said today during a special-called Atlanta City Council meeting to discuss the wishlist that some of these projects could possibly be funded with the local discretionary funds the city will receive, in addition to funding for approved projects, if the ballot measure passes.

>> We've got three bus rapid transit projects on the list, including a $80 million project along Bankhead Highway between Bankhead Station and Douglasville and a $40 million line on Roswell Road from the city limits to Lindbergh. The final BRT line would be along Moreland Avenue between the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station to I-285. That has an estimated price tag of $30 million.

Throw in the bike trail linking Centennial Olympic Park to the Silver Comet Trail in Cobb County and several road widenings, realignments and interchange fixes and you have a total wishlist of $3.3 billion. That's not even counting the list of other cities and counties' projects the city plans to support during the selection process, which include such transit projects BRT along Buford Highway, Atlanta to Macon passenger rail, downtown train terminal projects, rail along the Clifton Corridor and light rail along I-75 between Cumberland Mall and the Arts Center.

Now remember: Not all these projects will make the final list of projects the one-cent sales tax will fund should voters approve the measure. Todd Long, the state planning director, will now pore over the proposals and determine which projects an executive committee — which includes Mayor Kasim Reed and Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd — will select.

View both lists — along with details about each proposal — here.

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