Jim Galloway this morning passes along a statement from Cobb County GOP Chairman Joe Dendy. In addition to stressing that any deal to bring the Atlanta Braves doesn't raise taxes, he puts on his transportation planner hat:
"It is absolutely necessary the solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta."
Remove the Braves reference and this quote could have been ripped from a 1970s copy of the Atlanta Journal.
The MARTA buses that have been transporting you to work, home, and on craft-beer crawls are reaching the end of their lifetimes. Shed a tear for these hulking beasts. And once you have dried your eyes, feast your peepers on the new vehicles that will take their place.
Yesterday at Five Points, MARTA officials unveiled one of the new sleek and streamlined buses (alongside an actual 45-passenger vehicle operated by the transit agency's predecessor, the Atlanta Transit Company, between 1954 and 1974). The model, which, according to one driver we spoke with, drives "like a BMW," is one of nearly 90 30-foot and 40-foot buses that will soon start rolling on streets in Fulton and DeKalb counties. Each fully equipped model costs $497,000.
So what'd we get? The new buses, which run on clean natural gas, are in most ways your standard bus. However, the new models boast interior LED lights that MARTA says are "brighter than conventional lamps but use less energy, ergonomic seating, larger window openings, increased headroom at the wider rear exit door and air conditioning with automatic climate controls."
"For safety and security, the buses have a fire suppression system with both thermal and optical sensors," transit officials said in a release. "Like MARTA's existing bus fleet, the newer vehicles are also outfitted with surveillance camera systems capable of recording activity on the vehicles' interior and exterior."
And the rear side doors come equipped with sensors that halt and re-open when they start closing on a person. No Wi-Fi, however. Yet.
The 88 buses are the first group of 265 vehicles that will be added to the transit agency's fleet over the next three years. After the jump, more photos of the new bus and the 1950s bus, which really needs to be rolled out every once in a while.
Over the past few weeks, Georgia Department of Transportation workers have been burning the midnight oil, repaving Ponce de Leon Avenue at all hours of the night in preparation for the busy street's brand new bike lanes.
As we reported last October, the bustling east-west thoroughfare will soon receive its own buffered bicycle lanes to provide a safer route between Beltline's Eastside Trail and Midtown.
See that beautiful new smooth pavement? That's the ponce bike lane going in! pic.twitter.com/E0TgRFJaEl
- Colleen (@colleeniebikini) August 26, 2013
Now that GDOT has started construction, many two-wheel peddlers, such as Atlanta Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Rebecca Serna tells 11 Alive, are rejoicing:
"They are definitely a step up as far as bike lanes go in Atlanta," said Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
"They'll have a painted buffer with (three-foot wide) hash marks that will give bicyclists a little bit more breathing room from the motorized traffic."
While the three-foot bike lanes that'll soon be installed are welcome change, not everyone's pleased with the new addition. The repaving has caused some congestion as it's narrowed the road down to two lanes each way, leaving some motorists unhappy. WSB-TV talked to several drivers in a recent report who said the recent traffic was everything from "bad at times" to "hectic, very hectic."
The road work, along with accompanying traffic delays, is expected to continue through the end of the month. You've been warned, impatient commuters!
Tonight, residents and businesses will be asked for input and ideas about enhancing the fast-growing neighborhood's three rail stations. The workshop is part of a partnership between the Midtown Alliance, Atlanta Regional Commission, and MARTA to turn the stops into "gateway experiences for pedestrians and commuters" by using "creative, implementable solutions" and making the most of what's already there. That could mean anything from making the North Avenue station a place you want to people watch or have coffee or turning the Arts Center stop into a rotating gallery - in addition to being a part of your daily commute. The Midtown Alliance released some conceptual renderings earlier this summer depicting potential visions for the stations.
According to organizers, the proposals "will focus on a range of issues including access, safety, maintenance, wayfinding, lighting, landscaping and public art, primarily on the exterior of each station. The result will be a prioritized list of immediate and long-range recommended improvements that can be implemented over the next three to five years, as funding becomes available."
If you want a seat, be sure to RSVP. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Promenade at 1230 Peachtree Street. Organizers will start politely ushering folks out the door at 7:30 p.m.
What's your background? Are you currently studying or was this a project you started on your own free time?
I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech in 2009, and I begin graduate school there next week. I am pursuing a dual master's degree in Civil Engineering and City and Regional Planning (Transportation Systems Engineering). I came up with this idea while working as a waitress at Local Three Kitchen + Bar and launching my own tutoring business, Integral Education. I was not in school at the time. Adding to over six years as a sustainability leader, including two years and counting on the Generation Green Board of the Georgia Conservancy, I currently serve as a lead volunteer and speakers bureau administrator for the Atlanta BeltLine.
Atlanta Beltline Inc., the nonprofit that plans and develops the 22-mile smart-growth loop, announced on Monday that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the project an $18 million federal grant to further construct the southwest trail between Adair Park and Washington Park. In a recent CL interview, ABI CEO Paul Morris called the project a "top priority."
The TIGER V grant will fund a 2.5-mile walking and biking trail that will mirror the Eastside Trail, which opened in October 2012. The 14-foot wide path will run from Allene Avenue north to Lawton Street. There it will connect with the existing West End Trail and then return to the rail corridor near Ralph Abernathy Boulevard. From there, it runs north to Lena Street and Washington Park. (Here's a larger graphic.)
The path will run alongside several parks and include 16 access points with stairs and wheelchair accessible ramps. In addition, the trail will serve as a convenient route for residents and students to four nearby schools. The project stretches between MARTA's Ashby and Oakland City rail stations and will pass multiple MARTA bus stop.
Though planned to be similar to the wildly popular Eastside Trail, which cost $12 million to design and build, the southwest path will cost more to construct because the total price includes many access points and features like surveillance cameras and lighting. In addition, crews will have to purchase and clear more land as the railroad corridor once only served a single track width.
Construction is expected to begin roughly one year from now and will take approximately two years to complete, said Beltline Spokesman Ethan Davidson.
Federal officials granted a total of $474 million during this most recent round of TIGER funding. The Beltline project competed with more than 568 applications from all 50 states for grants more than $9 million. The grant covered 42 percent of the project's total $43 million cost. The remaining funding will come from a combination of public and private sources, including the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Beltline's tax allocation district, and other federal funds, Davidson said.
Once complete, the path will bring the total length of the Beltline's permanent trails to 9.5 miles. That means there's roughly 23 more miles of trail left to go until the Beltline path network is finished.
Have you settled in?
Yes, I've settled in. I hesitate only because I'm not sure if I'll ever be totally settled. But I have definitely settled in with the team, program, and the vision. And curiously, and kind of gratifyingly, I settled into the city. I meet people and they'll say, "So what do you think of Atlanta?" And I'll say, "I like it." And there's this initial quizzical look on their face. No, serious.
What do you like about it?
Part of it comes from... I'm kind of a city boy. Even though I didn't start up in the city as a kid, I got to travel a fair amount early in my life and throughout my life and I always felt very in my space and comfortable in the dynamic, socially close and somewhat frenetic environment of the city. Just the vibe of the city, the energy appeals to me. I like having to work at it to live in a place. I don't mind the hard work, being around other people. I like the feeling of the constant dynamics of everything around you and also the changing nature, is so much more dynamic. It's never static. Suburban and rural areas, they all change. But it's much slower and less noticeable. You don't see it changing when you're there. But you come back five years later and you pick up the subtle shifts.
I just drove down 10th Street after coming out of Park Tavern, where we had an Art on the Beltline event and saw we had a cycle track. This is awesome. A week earlier I saw bicyclist spilling off the sidewalk from Piedmont Park and into the street and weaving around cars. And then last night at 9:30 pm there were bikes on it. I was thinking, "This is motion. This is a city at work, doing its job, being attentive to the needs of its residents and the residents thanking them by using it, even at night when you wouldn't expect people to be out."
One year has passed since the July 2012 election in which voters weighed in on series of 12 regional transportation sales tax referenda - known commonly as the T-SPLOST - voting down the proposal in nine of the state's twelve regions, including metro Atlanta.
The Georgia Chapter of the Sierra Club made a difficult decision to oppose the referendum, determining that, despite some merits, it was ultimately not in the best interest of sustainable transportation policy in Georgia. While not all of our members agreed with the Chapter's T-SPLOST position, we all share a common interest in moving forward on the larger issue of sustainable transportation policy.
Thankfully, the potential for such progress is still very real. We tend to view the failure of the T-SPLOST not as a blanket rejection of new transportation investment in general, but rather as a rejection of an institutional status quo that was increasingly seen as ineffective by the voting public, and as an opportunity to chart a new course forward based on improved accountability and responsiveness to our actual 21st-century transportation needs. Following the July election, the Chapter promoted a framework for transportation progress centered on three major themes:
* "Put the House in Order." Ensure an equitable, accountable, and trustworthy transportation governance framework prior to investing billions of new taxpayer dollars.
* "Pursue Funding that Makes Sense." Focus on maintaining and effectively utilizing our existing revenue streams and assets. Tie new transportation funding sources to use and travel behavior to the greatest extent possible.
* "Give Georgians Transportation Choices for the 21st Century." Focus on natural, results-oriented progress that responds to the needs and desires of Georgians rather than a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach.
Fortunately, there has been significant activity on all of these fronts in the year since the referendum. Below, we discuss some of the highlights from these eventful past twelve months.
And those talks, Mayor Kasim Reed says, include building transit between Downtown and Turner Field that a.) doesn't involve a bus and b.) doesn't just run on game days.
Mayor Kasim Reed today told us that his administration is "looking at all of our options" about transit - possibly light-rail or maglev, as Maria Saporta reported this morning in the Atlanta Business Chronicle - that would move Braves fans more efficiently and serve adjacent Turner Field neighborhoods such as Summerhill, Peoplestown, and, to some extent, Mechanicsville. Not to mention whatever mixed-use development that could one day rise from the sea of parking lots surrounding the ballpark.
"We're looking at all of our options," he said.
Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui says the city thinks dedicated transit could improve connectivity and "significantly enhance" the possibility of economic development around the stadium and in adjacent communities.
Invest Atlanta, the city's economic development arm, is preparing to ask developers to formally submit their visions for the properties surrounding Turner Field, which the Braves lease from the Atlanta-Fulton County Recreation Authority. That lease expires Dec. 31, 2016. Developers pitched ideas earlier this year but a formal request has not yet been issued by Invest Atlanta.
The team, city officials, and some surrounding residents would like to see the parking lots adjacent to the stadium include residential, mixed-use, and other uses - especially retail that could accommodate the underserved nearby communities, such as a grocery store. Key to its success will be making it connect not just to surrounding neighborhoods but also the rest of the city. Transit could help accomplish that goal.
Linking the area to MARTA rail and Downtown is not exactly a new plan. Organizers of the 1996 Olympics considered linking the two with transit but shelved the plan due to financial constraints.
"Now, because of [transit] solutions that are more cost effective and other agreements that may allow us to do this in a manner that makes economic sense, it's more attainable," he said. His staff is studying those plans and others to determine what might work best for the communities and stadium at minimum public cost.
Reed declined to specify routes or which funding sources were being considered, but noted that the plan "is not just a drawing on paper."
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