Archive for February, 2013

It is gratifying to see that there is active interest in building a new transportation station at the corner of Northside Drive and 17th Street.  Please see:

I could go on, but all of this is gratifying because it shows respect for both the railroad and bus passengers it would serve and the operating companies that would use it (Amtrak and Greyhound, among others).  It is gratifying because it is a logical location that would also result in improvements to the surrounding neighborhoods.  And, it’s kind of nice that the idea has caught on, years after it occurred to me.  Please see my blog of April 2009, here.

That said, I want to clarify a point that I made in that blog item of years ago.  In that piece, I suggested that we could use tunnels that had been built originally for the MARTA NW line.

MARTA Tunnels at I-85

MARTA Tunnels at I-85

I want to state clearly that I now think that this would be a bad idea.  It’s a bad idea because we can’t afford it.  Heavy rail construction, such as is MARTA, is very expensive and for any such construction to be financially feasible, it would have to travel much further than just to Atlantic Station.  That means the line would have to continue in a Northwesterly direction, which would take it into Cobb County.  Say what you will, a proposal to construct a MARTA line into Cobb County would meet with substantial resistance.  But there is another way.

Why not build a streetcar line between the proposed Amtrak Station and downtown Atlanta?

Atlanta Streetcar on Display

Atlanta Streetcar on Display

Some bright minds have already discovered Northside Drive.  Consider this study from Georgia Tech:

Georgia Tech’s Mike Dobbins is on to something.  Running with this thought, consider that the Northside Drive corridor between the proposed transportation station and downtown is an underutilized resource.  Building a streetcar line in this corridor makes much better sense than trying to hook the station into the MARTA heavy rail network.  The streetcar line would be cheaper and almost immediately start producing traffic revenue.  Such a line would pass by Georgia Tech, Coca-Cola headquarters, numerous student dormitories and connect with the now-under-construction streetcar line in downtown Atlanta.  Connecting to this car line would also offer access to streetcar storage and maintenance facilities.

Northside is wide enough to allow for such a construction project.  Tech Parkway could be adapted for streetcar traffic.  Luckie Street is underutilized.  Upgrading Northside Drive would also give the DoT something from their wish-list, rebuilding the Norfolk Southern Railroad’s overpass at Northside Drive, an ancient structure.

This is a remarkable opportunity for a city that wants badly to do something about transportation.  And, how long will it be before the Atlantic Station development begins calling itself Atlanta Station?

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