Planning for transit on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor and the extension of the Downtown Atlanta Streetcar is progressing. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) has started the technical studies that evaluate the potential impacts of the first extensions of the streetcar lines. These detailed evaluations will consider possible impacts to endangered species, existing parks, historic properties, local businesses, projected traffic, pedestrian safety, development opportunities, and many other environmental factors. With the community’s input, we are in the process of narrowing down the route options for three corridors: “Atlanta BeltLine East”, “Atlanta BeltLine West”, and “The North Ave/Luckie Street” lines. Once this initial “high level” evaluation is completed, we will formally enter into the much more detailed studies that will inform the Environmental Assessment for all three corridors.
To date, we’ve met with the study groups to discuss the process the community should expect during these technical studies. A Citywide Conversation will be held on June 17, 2014 to gather public feedback on possible streetcar route options and MARTA connectivity.
“Atlanta BeltLine East” studies the extension of the downtown streetcar to the Atlanta BeltLine, as well as the Atlanta BeltLine corridor from Montgomery Ferry south to Glenwood Avenue.
Most of this study area will be in the Atlanta BeltLine corridor but there are two areas that present challenges and an opportunity for community input: the connection from the downtown streetcar to the Atlanta BeltLine corridor, and the connection across Hulsey Yard, which divides DeKalb Avenue and Wylie Street. Hulsey Yard is particularly challenging because the CSX rail yard is active and the existing crossing nearest to the corridor is the Krog Tunnel. The dashed orange lines in the graphic below illustrate just a few of the route options for which we are seeking feedback.
The corridor options include a possible connection to either the King Memorial or Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA Stations. As the graphic above shows, connecting at an existing MARTA station will require navigating around Hulsey Yard. The most direct route (through Hulsey Yard) requires tunneling under the active rail yard.
“North Avenue/Luckie St” studies the extension of the west end of the downtown streetcar north to North Avenue, as well as the crosstown connector between Atlanta BeltLine East and Atlanta BeltLine West, primarily along North Avenue.
The first challenge of extending the existing downtown streetcar is routing transit either through or around Centennial Olympic Park. In addition to considering exiting rights-of-way, the potential impact to the park atmosphere must be assessed.
The crosstown connection will ultimately link to the Atlanta BeltLine West corridor to the Atlanta BeltLine East corridor by way of North Avenue and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway. At issue are ways to navigate from Atlanta BeltLine West to North Ave. A few options include an abandoned rail line, Donald Lee Hollowell, or Tech Parkway.
At the Citywide Conversation, you will have an opportunity to review these routes on larger maps, discuss the alignments with our technical staff, and provide your feedback. Please come with questions and your thoughts.
We will consider your input as we narrow the feasible options down to a more manageable set of options to evaluate in more detail during the environmental assessment process. Environmental assessments require that our consultants consider many areas of impact. Among the considerations are project readiness, project costs, operating efficiency, ridership numbers, and the convenience of riding times and destinations for potential riders. Economic development and social implications are also taken into consideration for each potential route – for example, the Atlanta BeltLine program considers equitable development in prioritizing projects, and if areas of Atlanta are under-served by transit, this is taken into account in route selection.
We have just begun a similar process for Atlanta BeltLine West (University Avenue north to the Maddox Park area), and there will be opportunities for public engagement for this corridor in the coming months.