ATLANTA – (WAOK) Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was among the dignitaries to help break ground on a new 95 million dollar streetcar project, that is designed to bring jobs and businesses to the historic Auburn Avenue corridor. The project is expected to be completed by 2013. U-S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood who also attended the celebration, said it will boost tourism and bring businesses to areas, in the city, where there are none. Some existing business owners along the Auburn Avenue area, aren’t so sure the new streetcar construction will help business, instead saying all the work will impede business, and make it more difficult for customers to reach them.
The new 2.6-mile Atlanta Streetcar line will run through the heart of Atlanta’s business, tourism and convention corridor. Mayor Reed was also joined by project partners A.J. Robinson, president of the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, and Dr. Beverly A. Scott, general manager and CEO of MARTA. Councilmember Kwanza Hall and other elected leaders also attended the event.
“Today’s launch of the Atlanta Streetcar project is the first step in a project that will transform our downtown corridor, and it reflects President Obama’s blueprint for anAmerica that’s ‘built to last,’” said Mayor Reed. “I am grateful for the support of the Obama Administration and Secretary LaHood for the TIGER II grant, which stands as the largest single federal allocation awarded to the City of Atlanta for transportation outside of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and MARTA in more than a decade.”
Operated byMARTA, the streetcar line will include 12 stops with access to major attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, which is the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement. The line will also connect with MARTA’s rail and bus systems with eventual connectivity to the Atlanta BeltLine.
“President Obama called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work on transportation projects that are built to last, like Atlanta’s modern streetcar line,” said Secretary LaHood. “All across America, there is work to be done on projects like this. Now is the time to connect people who need work with the work we need to do to improve our nation’s transit centers, highways, railways, airports and ports.”
Secretary LaHood’s visit follows President Obama’s State of the Union address, in which the president called for using funds saved from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay down the debt and fund a six-year transportation bill that would clear the way for nation-building here in the United States.
The Atlanta Streetcar is the first phase of what will be a city-wide and potentially region-wide alternative transportation system. The Atlanta Streetcar provides the “last mile” link from MARTA to important activity centers in the downtown. New bicycle facilities and upgraded sidewalks and pedestrian environments are all part of the Atlanta Streetcar project.
The streetcar project also heeds President Obama’s call for a new era for American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources. Because the streetcar will be powered by electricity, it will produce zero emissions.
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26