Neighbors air grievances about proposed Atlanta Streetcar extension

The 2.5-mile project is currently in the final design phase.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 7:21 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - The Atlanta Streetcar does a three-mile loop through downtown Atlanta, but a proposed extension would expand the streetcar east, up the beltline all the way to the popular Ponce City Market.

MARTA held a meeting allowing those both for and against the plan to share their thoughts. However, there’s no indication the plans will change.

Fred Duncan loves the convenience of living steps from the lively Atlanta beltline, but he strongly opposes MARTA’s plans to extend the streetcar through his neighborhood and onto the trail.

As an organizer of Old Fourth Ward’s Streetcar Impact Team, Duncan represents more than 350 homeowners who oppose the project. They believe the project, which could cost upwards of $215 million, is a waste of money and will create more traffic issues in the area.

“I don’t think a streetcar anywhere in the U.S. runs down residential streets. They’re generally along commercial streets down wider boulevards,” Duncan said.

The 2.5-mile project is currently in the final design phase. It would extend east on Edgewood, north on Randolf to Auburn and Irwin, then onto the Beltline with a final stop at Ponce City Market.

Matthew Rao, the chair of Beltline Rail now, said, “For the first time, we will be delivering the equity, the opportunity, the sustainability, the mobility that the Beltline projects promise.”

Rao understands the streetcar has some design and operational problems, but he believes the issues will improve as the project expands. More importantly, he says the extension will connect people across the city.

“To those who say we don’t need it, look at the gridlock we experience, and I would remind everyone, we said we wanted this and we voted with our tax dollars – the money for this project is already there, set aside.”

MARTA plans to break ground on the extension sometime next year with it opening to the public in 2027.

As for the current streetcar service which has been offline since December due to safety reasons, we’re told service will resume a week from today.