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Is Optimistic Atlanta Streetcar Projection Unreasonable?

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Along with talk of asphalt machines, loaders and catenary systems, the folks at Construction Equipment Guide have compiled an insightful update on the Atlanta Streetcar project, which is barreling ahead despite unforeseen complications like hidden basements. For instance, there's this nugget: "By 2030, it's projected that downtown Atlanta will experience 5.1 million square feet of retail absorption and an increase of approximately 4.4 million square feet of new office space, because of the Atlanta Streetcar." Sounds optimistic. Too optimistic? That's about four Bank of America Towers worth of office space, y'all.

According to the report, officials hope to have the initial, 2.7-mile streetcar loop — the first segment of a potentially larger streetcar system — fully running by early 2014. It'll be the first streetcar in Atlanta since 1949, and like many substantial civic projects, it's been plagued with cost overruns that have pushed the bill close to $100 million. In the article, Tom Weyandt, senior policy advisor of transportation for Mayor Kasim Reed's office, helped explain why:

"The streetcar is being built in some of the oldest parts of downtown Atlanta ... More than 15 different private utilities plus the public water and sewer system have facilities that were impacted to some degree — some rather minor, but others enormously complicated," Weyandt told the site. "Some we didn't discover until we opened the street. In addition, we discovered some basements extending under sidewalks which were previously unknown."

Still, Weyandt sounds giddy in seeing the path for streetcars — Siemens S70 vehicles powered by a single overhead trolley wire — come to fruition. "Actually seeing tracks being laid and sidewalks being rebuilt is thrilling and a major step for the city of Atlanta," he said.

It's been a few weeks since we've have a gander at streetcar construction. How's it looking out there, and how eager are you to use this system?

· Construction Under Way on Atlanta Streetcar Line [Construction Equipment Guide]
· Recent ATL Streetcar coverage [Curbed Atlanta]

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