Friday night, a group of Atlantans gathered around the streetcar depot to watch the much-delayed project take a big step forward. They chattered excitedly, held "Congratulations!" balloons and took photos as police blocked off Fort Street and ambassadors zipped around on Segways. Streetcar 1003 was towed onto the tracks just after midnight to begin its maiden voyage of the 2.7-mile route. The 5 mph (often slower) tow test checked clearances and officials say that all went well. Next up, a test wherein the streetcar will travel under its own power, then driver training and then, at last, public rides. No one is more excited than owners of businesses along Edgewood Avenue. Matt Ruppert, owner of Noni's Deli, told Curbed Atlanta, "We were excited back in 2010 when plans were first being hatched to build the streetcar. And now we're freaking thrilled to be in the homestretch of its construction. Not only do we expect it will deliver us business folks, GSU students and tourists, it feels like proper vindication for the risky choice we made to inhabit Edgewood Avenue seven years ago."
Keiran Neely, owner of The Music Room, is equally optimistic: "The streetcar will allow tourists to get a slice of downtown and the Edgewood Corridor in one trip. Once the street scene gets its imminent facelift, Edgewood Avenue will be a no-brainer for visitors looking for an off-the-beaten path experience that might not have been on their radar previously."
Grant Henry, owner of Church (a bar), offers this advice: "I think the streetcar is going to bring Atlanta one step closer to realizing its place as an international city. We, as a community, and the city together, as co-stewards of the streets, must do a world class job of keeping the streets clean, well lit, safe, and free of all negative elements."
Here's how the first test went...