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Poll: How important is a transit component for the Atlanta Beltline’s future?

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Beltline project’s visionary has caused a stir by worrying that transit is no priority

A photo of the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail.
The Eastside Trail: no light-rail yet.
Curbed Atlanta

Always taking the longview, Beltline mastermind Ryan Gravel has a bone to pick with Atlanta’s TSPLOST priorities, as the city is faced with, in Gravel’s words, “a tsunami of growth” in coming years.

A robust transit network in the Beltline corridor, Gravel argues, will be essential to mitigating traffic nightmares and the city’s affordable housing squeeze as Atlanta packs on an expected influx of millions of residents. Transit, Gravel notes, has been integral to the Beltline vision he’s been pitching (alongside the likes of John Lewis and Jane Fonda) for 15 years.

The Beltline’s transitless Westside Trail, under construction near Interstate 20 last summer.
Curbed Atlanta

Yet, in a call-to-action column on his website that’s generating headlines, Gravel posits that city leaders have done very little to push forward Beltline transit since voters overwhelmingly approved additional sales taxes for MARTA expansion and other transportation enhancements in 2016. He writes:

“... a year and a half has passed and we’re still waiting for news on [Beltline] transit. In addition to the line to Emory, our money is being committed to projects that have not had a single public meeting. And rumors are swirling that Beltline transit may not even make it into the plan—at least not much of it. If that’s true, it’s fair to wonder if MARTA and other decision makers have been listening all these years. Or maybe they don’t remember. Or maybe they weren’t here at the time. Or maybe they don’t care.”


After the column published, MARTA chair Robbie Ashe assured the AJC that Beltline transit is a high priority but didn’t elaborate.

Gravel, an urban planner who conceived of the Beltline as a Georgia Tech grad student, hasn’t been skittish about speaking his mind on Beltline issues. He resigned in 2016 from the Atlanta Beltline Partnership due to what he called a lack of emphasis on affordability and equality.

That theme continues at the conclusion of his column:

“We know intuitively that without urgent investment in transit, the Beltline will become what everyone fears—a beautiful greenway flanked by gentrified neighborhoods for people who can afford the luxury of that choice. That’s not what we wanted. That’s not what we voted for.”

So that’s Gravel’s take, but now it’s time to hear from you, ye citizens of Atlanta and patrons of its fabled Beltline.

Will it be crucial, in your view, for Atlantans to have the ability catch a light-rail train or some version of a streetcar/trolley on the Beltline one day? Would transit cash be better spent elsewhere? Does the city need a Beltline public-transport loop at all?

Let’s hear how you feel.


How important is a transit component for the Beltline’s future?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    It’s the whole point. Let’s get started now.
    (2524 votes)
  • 12%
    Honestly, it’d be nice, but I’m okay with just walking/running/biking/skating the Beltline from place to place.
    (433 votes)
  • 2%
    A loop of transit won’t work. Forget it.
    (93 votes)
  • 12%
    Let’s concentrate on building the full trail first. Then we’ll talk Beltline trains.
    (418 votes)
3468 votes total Vote Now