We are a non-profit organized in the state of Georgia as a citizen action group focused on getting rail on the Atlanta BeltLine now!
The Atlanta BeltLine—one of the largest economic drivers in Atlanta—was begun in 2003 as a transit-oriented project, but so far it has no transit component. Recently, there have been discussions of further delaying, altering, or even forgoing the transit portion of the Atlanta BeltLine. We, the undersigned, support an aggressive timeline to put a two-way light rail or streetcar along the Atlanta BeltLine.
Transit will improve the traffic choking our neighborhoods
The escalating density along the Atlanta BeltLine is also escalating congestion levels from car traffic. In a mature city with robust transit connections, density would be an asset. However, our streets are gridlocked from the construction of new residences, offices, and retail—all built without corresponding high-capacity transit options. BeltLine rail will offer current and new residents alternatives to driving, alleviating the burden on neighborhood streets.
Transit will best connect neighborhoods and businesses
In theory, the 22-mile loop of the BeltLine is supposed to connect 44 neighborhoods. But crossing such distances is only possible with transit, particularly in a growing population center. The Atlanta BeltLine rail, once built, will also connect to existing MARTA stations, allowing people to crisscross the city with ease. The transit component will also provide much-needed transportation access and equity to neighborhoods across Atlanta.
The Atlanta BeltLine is big business
The Atlanta BeltLine has fueled over $4 billion in private investment on the northeast corridor alone, with billions more in the pipeline. New and existing businesses—including restaurants, retailers, and commercial and residential offices—have clustered around the current BeltLine, and transit access will ensure that these businesses can continue thriving in increasingly dense and high-traffic areas. In addition, locating closer to existing transit allows businesses to draw highly-skilled employees, who desire this amenity.
Light rail or streetcar is necessary
Buses or other alternatives are not enough. In 2007, MARTA conducted an Alternatives Analysis that recommended light rail or streetcar technology on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. A Tax Allocation District was created to provide funding for corridor acquisition and construction of trail and transit in the right-of-way. Voters approved a half-cent sales tax in 2016 to provide funds to acquire the remaining corridor and to fund transit on the Atlanta BeltLine. We believe MARTA’s carefully studied recommendation is the right way to go.
The time to build rail on the BeltLine is NOW, and we urge Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, MARTA, and the Atlanta City Council to prioritize this project when selecting among the high-capacity MARTA transit projects voters backed in 2016.