Atlanta Streetcar construction pushes forward

Simulation of Atlanta Streetcar on inner-city neighborhood street.

Atlanta, Georgia — Atlanta is another major U.S. city where streetcar mobility is making a comeback.

A recent article in Maria Saporta’s Saporta Report blog provides an update on the progress of the project. Quick summary: It’s several months behind, and about 5% over budget, mainly because of unforeseen problems with underground utilities. But the construction budget gap has been reduced from $10 million to about $5 million, and fingers are being crossed that that service will begin in the spring or early summer of 2014.

While the 2.62-mile streetcar project’s construction budget includes a financial buffer for contingencies — intended to offset exactly these kinds of cost overruns — and its enough to cover the current gap, says Saporta, “the project team does not want to use up all of its contingency budget in case other issues come up.”

Organized as a public-private partnership between the City, MARTA and the private Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, the Atlanta Streetcar project is estimated to have a total cost of $92.7 million. Federal aid in the form of a $47.7 million TIGER II grant “gave the project life” says Saporta.

Based on Saporta’s tally, here’s a total budget breakdown for the project (millions):

• Federal TIGER grant — $47.7 million
• City of Atlanta — $15.6 million
• Atlanta Downtown Improvement District — $6 million

That adds up to an “initial net project total” of $69.3 million reports Saporta.

The rest of the budget includes:

• City of Atlanta — $9 million for streetcars (rolling stock)
• Department of Watershed Management — $8 million to move water and sewer utilities
• Livable Centers Initiative grant — $5.1 million for transit and pedestrian enhancements
• Another LCI grant — $1.25 million to convert Luckie Street into a two-way thoroughfare.

Map of Atlanta Streetcar starter line route.

A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, reports Saporta, emphasized how optimistic he was reharding the impact that the Atlanta Streetcar will have on Atlanta’s downtown. Already a number of new developments are being planned along the route.

“The building of the Atlanta Streetcar is the dawn of a new era for transit — one that can begin to transform the way we get around in our community” enthuses Saporta.

For more on the project, including a discussion of operating options, read the original article

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