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Federal funds to help grow streetcar system, linking downtown to two Beltline trails

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It’ll be some five years before construction actually begins, though

The Atlanta Streetcar passes through downtown Atlanta in 2015.
Coming to a Beltline segment near you?
Curbed Atlanta

A $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to help Atlanta Beltline and MARTA leaders figure out how to link downtown’s underutilized streetcar circuit to multi-use trails on either side of the city.

The city’s Streetcar Downtown Crosstown Extension project, part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Transportation Improvement Plan, is ultimately expected to stitch together the Beltline’s Westside Trail with its Eastside Trail by way of light rail snaking through destinations like the Atlanta University Center and Georgia State University.

“The work funded by the $2.8 million will include geotechnical and utility surveys to clarify impacts and costs of the preferred alignment,” Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom tells Curbed Atlanta. “It will also provide data that can help determine potential station locations.”

Essentially, which path the rail lines will take is undetermined, but Beltline officials said during a community meeting last week the Eastside Trail connection would be at Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The work is also being funded in part by Invest Atlanta, which is pitching in $700,000, bringing the total up to $3.5 million.

It’s important to note, though, that the money isn’t going toward construction of the streetcar routes.

As with many major transit expansion projects in Atlanta, it’s best not to hold your breath; the streetcar extension effort isn’t slated to kick off until 2025.

The receipt of these federal funds comes six months after MARTA officials approved a timeline for the “historic” More MARTA expansion program, and a little more than a year after they finalized a project list for the $2.7 billion undertaking.

All told, the More MARTA program is expected to produce nearly 30 miles of new light rail lines around the city. They’re expected to be passenger-ready sometime after 2040.