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Talks of massive downtown Atlanta passenger terminal spring back to life

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The $1.5-billion mega-concept has a pulse on Gulch-y land that’s suddenly coveted again

Plans for a huge train and bus station that will never be built in downtown Atlanta.
The grand plan, as unveiled in 2014. Philips Arena, unseen, is at left.
All images: FXFOWLE/Vimeo

Dreams of a gleaming, downtown Atlanta passenger hub aren’t dead after all.

For the first time in about four years, plans to build a massive terminal near Five Points and The Gulch for bus and rail passengers are getting serious looks from movers-and-shakers in state government.

As the AJC reports, the state Senate Transportation Committee held a hearing Thursday regarding the $1.5-billion “multimodal passenger terminal”—a concept that has new life as traditionally transit-shunning Republican lawmakers begin to warm to the idea of non-vehicle transportation.

The committee’s chairman, Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, argues that Atlanta needs it own Union Station now more than ever, whether in The Gulch or another nearby site.

A monumental hurdle, as always, remains a lack of funding, at least thus far. And railroad companies that own much of the dirt—CSX and Norfolk Southern—don’t exactly sound motivated to sell.

Back in 2011, the Georgia Department of Transportation commissioned a study (at a cost of more than $12 million) that spurred the flashy passenger-hub vision.

Now, the AJC describes the big idea as follows:

“Supporters say the terminal could serve as the hub for MARTA, regional passenger train service, local and regional buses and other transportation services. And they say it could spark a building boom in one of the largest undeveloped areas of downtown—119 acres near the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the Georgia World Congress Center, and other tourist draws.”

Is it a coincidence that multimodal talks have been revived just weeks after news emerged, via Mayor Kasim Reed, that the Atlanta Hawks are interested in assembling land to build a billion-dollar entertainment district next to Philips Arena? Hmm.

As of now, the AJC notes, it’s unclear if the Hawks’ ambitions could coincide with those of lawmakers wanting a passenger terminal to rise on the underused land.

Travelers in the 2020s would apparently be treated to a realistic Georgia Dome hologram.

Philips Arena

1 Philips Drive, , GA 30303 (404) 878-3000 Visit Website