Federal money for streetcars formally presented

Savannah, Ga. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

ATLANTA — Federal officials on Wednesday formally presented the city of Atlanta with $47.6 million to build a streetcar line.

“The Atlanta streetcar project is a prime example of the kind of innovative, 21st century projects that will change the U.S. transportation landscape by strengthening the economy and creating jobs, reducing gridlock and providing safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation choices,” U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood said in a news release.

The 2.62-mile streetcar line will connect Peachtree Street and Sweet Auburn Avenue, and a one-way trip is expected to take 10 minutes. The streetcar will connect with MARTA, the grant’s recipient, at the Peachtree Center station.

“The Atlanta Streetcar project moves the City of Atlanta forward and keeps us competitive with other similar cities by improving our regional transit connectivity, boosting our billion dollar tourism industry, helping local businesses along the Sweet Auburn Avenue corridor, and building a more sustainable future,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said in a news release. “Most important of all, the Atlanta Streetcar project puts our citizens back to work soon by creating 930 jobs during the construction phase and more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years.”

The initial system will have 12 stops and four electric streetcars.

“The award represents a significant vote of confidence for what the city of Atlanta is advancing in the areas of transportation and economic development,” A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, said in a news release.

Critics decry the streetcar project as wasteful spending.

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