Wednesday, September 16, 2009

City of Atlanta Submits Application for U.S. DOT Stimulus Grant

/PRNewswire/ -- The City of Atlanta and its partners in the Georgia Transit Connector initiative submitted yesterday an application for $298.3 million in federal stimulus to fund a 9.7-track-mile modern streetcar system in Atlanta.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's discretionary Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants are earmarked for local surface transportation projects that will help jumpstart the economy.

"If Atlanta is to remain competitive with other urban areas for economic development, we must improve our connectivity and mobility," said Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. "A streetcar system will help make Atlanta a more walkable city and serve as a catalyst for development and revitalization in Midtown and Downtown."

The proposed streetcar route is a T-shape, with 6.6 track miles north-south from Peachtree Pointe/SCAD-Atlanta in Midtown to the Five Points MARTA station in Downtown and a 3.1-mile east-west route from Centennial Olympic Park to The King Center.

As proposed now, TIGER funding would cover all capital costs associated with the streetcar, such as construction and vehicle procurement. Several models for operations and management after construction are being considered. Atlanta's application will be competing against applications for transportation initiatives nationwide.

The partners anticipate the streetcar will act as a catalyst for new urban development, support local and regional land use plans, and accommodate significant population and employment growth. The streetcar is projected to meet future travel demand, enhance existing neighborhood character in an environmentally sensitive manner, and improve transportation access and connectivity to disconnected destinations and activity centers in the urban core.

The streetcar will connect with MARTA's existing heavy rail and will be used for traveling shorter distances within Downtown and Midtown, alleviating intra-city congestion. The carbon-free streetcar has the capacity to transport more than 20,000 passengers daily and will reduce MARTA's carbon footprint as it replaces bus service along the Peachtree corridor.

The U.S. DOT is expected to notify recipients of funding by February 2010. If funding is awarded, the City would begin construction immediately with a projected completion date of February 2012.

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