Today’s AJC has an op ed by John Somerhalder, Chairman of the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. board of directors. The piece stresses the regional importance of the Atlanta BeltLine and Streetcar projects on the Transportation Referendum list because of the new mobility options they provide and the large number of jobs they touch- more than 140,ooo jobs are within a 1/2 mile of the routes. Money quote:
“According to an Atlanta Regional Commission analysis of Georgia Department of Labor data, more than 140,000 employees work within a half-mile of the Atlanta Beltline and streetcar routes on the referendum project list. This number exceeds the total employment of six out of 10 of the counties in the region. Census data show that 70 percent of these workers travel from outside of Fulton County to get to these jobs.”
Read the entire piece below:
Transit investment in Atlanta is not only relevant to the region, it’s also absolutely essential to continuing our success and maintaining our competitive edge. Each day, tens of thousands of employees travel from around the region to Fortune 500 companies such as Georgia Pacific, Turner Broadcasting and AGL Resources.
Hundreds of thousands more employees, students and visitors travel to the region’s major universities, including Georgia Tech, Georgia State and the Atlanta University Center schools. Each year, millions of visitors travel from around the region to cultural attractions such as the Woodruff Arts Center, Piedmont Park, the Georgia Aquarium and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.
The segments of the Atlanta Beltline and streetcar on the transportation referendum project list, including new streetcar connections into downtown and Midtown, are a good start to changing transportation patterns in our region — and moving our economy forward. Our ability to grow and thrive depends on attracting new businesses and employees, and our ability to efficiently move people to their jobs and the places they want to go within and around Atlanta.
According to an Atlanta Regional Commission analysis of Georgia Department of Labor data, more than 140,000 employees work within a half-mile of the Atlanta Beltline and streetcar routes on the referendum project list. This number exceeds the total employment of six out of 10 of the counties in the region. Census data show that 70 percent of these workers travel from outside of Fulton County to get to these jobs.
These projects will connect major centers of employment, education and recreation by extending the reach of our existing MARTA system and expanding the regional transit network — including the Clifton Corridor, I-20 East and Cobb County transit lines.
The projects on the regional transportation referendum can help keep the region moving because of investments in new transit connections in the city of Atlanta. New transportation options linking surrounding counties to Atlanta will work best if riders can reach more destinations within the city. For example, the success of new proposed transit from Cobb or DeKalb counties depends on the ability to connect people to a transit system in the city that gets them where they need to go.
Each part of the region has weighed in, with more than 200,000 people providing input into the development of the project list. The region has much to gain from the city of Atlanta’s contribution as part of the project list. When we build the proposed transit infrastructure in Atlanta, including the Atlanta Beltline and streetcar segments that provide direct connections to downtown and Midtown, the return on investment will be even greater for surrounding areas. Since 2005, public investment in the Atlanta Beltline has totaled more than $300 million. That has, in turn, attracted more than $1 billion in private sector investment to the region. This is a remarkable return on investment in any market — particularly such a challenging one.
Great regions have great cores and invest in great transit connections to and within their job centers. As recently released census data show, growth in cities is outpacing growth in suburbs in 27 out of 51 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, including the Atlanta region. A balance of new road building and transit investment is vital to maintaining our economic competitiveness and our quality of life. Our residents and our leaders must step up to the challenge of the moment to make sure we can be as competitive as we should be in the future. We can’t afford to let Atlanta fall behind.
John Somerhalder is chairman, president and chief executive officer of AGL Resources and chairman of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.