Sure, the Atlanta Streetcar's initial segment might be opening months behind schedule, millions over budget and with no operator at the proverbial helm, but the grand-scheme plans are terrific food for thought. A "Final Report" has emerged for the Atlanta Beltline/Atlanta Streetcar System Plan, a longview glimpse at how streetcar segments will be implemented and which will be given first priority. With almost no funding identified, project timelines are next to impossible, and thus they're not provided in the 57-page report. (It's worth noting that legislators have recently voted overwhelmingly in support of allowing public-private partnerships to fund transit projects). The report's overview notes that, since the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games, "robust development activity" has been the norm in places like "Midtown, Buckhead, the northeast quadrant and limited parts of the northwest and southeast quadrants just outside of the urban core." Interconnected mobility options will be key to "supporting and accelerating this transformation of the city" in order to "facilitate the concentration of development in appropriate locations." That's either music to your ears or a social-engineering alarm bell, but it's clear the reintroduction of the streetcar is real and its blueprints weren't haphazardly thrown together.
In coming years, the goal is to expand the streetcar's initial downtown loop (above) into a 63-mile network of streetcar/light-rail transit lines. The three main players are the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Beltline. Seems appropriate, as more than one-third of the network — or 22 miles — would be built within the Betline corridor. The Final Report builds upon the Beltline's 2030 plan, released with pretty visuals late last year.
The Final Report breaks down the streetcar implementation into four phases, with Phase 1 representing the most near-term priorities after the first downtown loop. Interestingly, segments that would serve some of Atlanta's most pedestrian-friendly areas aren't planned until later phases. These included the 10th Street segment (Phase 3) and, tragically, the Peachtree Corridor (Phase 4). Sure, MARTA already serves much of Peachtree now, but aboveground, fixed transit could go a long way in transforming the street/road into the world-class retail corridor it strives to be. Also, the brilliant MARTA Greenline Loop proposed and illustrated by a Curbed Atlanta reader would appear to be covered by future streetcar routes. Womp womp.
Otherwise, here's a quick breakdown of the four planned phases:
Phase 1: (11.3 miles) This phase (above) would extend the downtown streetcar east and west along city streets and into the Atlanta Beltline corridor.
- Atlanta Streetcar East Extension – Irwin St.
- Atlanta Streetcar West Extension – Luckie St.
- East Atlanta Beltline
- West Atlanta Beltline
- Georgia Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) Connector
Phase 2: (7.9 miles).
- Southeast Atlanta Beltline to Glenwood Park
- Southwest Atlanta Beltline
- Atlanta University Center East
- Downtown/Grant Park
Phase 3: (15.6 miles)
- 10th St.
- Atlanta University Center West
- Upper Westside South
- Upper Westside North
- Lakewood North
- Lakewood South
Phase 4: (25.1 miles.) This represents the full build-out of the 63-mile long-term vision.
- Northwest Atlanta Beltline
- Old Fourth Ward
- Peachtree Corridor
- Southeast Atlanta Beltline: Glenwood Ave. to Lee St.
- West End — Grant Park
- Atlantic Station
- Northeast Atlanta Beltline
- Fort McPherson – Greenbriar
· Atlanta Beltline/Streetcar Final Report [Beltline; PDF]
· Introducing: The (Hypothetical) MARTA Greenline Loop! [Curbed Atlanta]