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U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Presents $47.6 million Check to Mayor Kasim Reed for Atlanta Streetcar

Post Date:10/20/2010

First phase of transit system moves City of Atlanta into the 21st century around issues of transportation, land use, smart-growth, and sustainability

 Mayor Kasim Reed greeted U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site as he presented a check for $47.6 million in TIGER II funding for the Atlanta Streetcar project.

The Atlanta Streetcar is a modern, ADA compliant, electrically-powered transit system. The first phase of the project will run for 2.62 miles in the heart of Atlanta’s downtown, business, tourism and convention corridor connecting Peachtree Street with Sweet Auburn Avenue.

“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,” Mayor Reed said. “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.”

Mayor Reed added: “By funding critical urban infrastructure projects such as the Atlanta Streetcar, President Barack Obama and the Department of Transportation have focused on building bridges between Americans who need jobs and jobs that need doing. Smart, innovative transportation projects solve today’s problems by addressing the critical need to put citizens back to work and also help ensure a better future for the City of Atlanta.”

Congressmen John Lewis, Hank Johnson and David Scott, along with members of the Atlanta City Council, joined Secretary LaHood and Mayor Reed for the check presentation. Also in attendance were MARTA CEO Dr. Beverly A. Scott, Central Atlanta Progress President A.J. Robinson and Atlanta BeltLine CEO and President Brian Leary.

"I'm thrilled to announce that we are awarding Atlanta $47.6 million for a modern streetcar system that puts the city at the vanguard of America’s streetcar renaissance,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood. “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."

The plans for the Atlanta Streetcar call for 12 stops and direct transfer to MARTA rail service at the Peachtree Center rail station. The route connects the city’s most visited tourist attractions, such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, and CNN Center with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Sweet Auburn Avenue district, thus enhancing the city’s $11 billion tourism and convention industry.

Several attractions under development – including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and a transit museum – also will be connected via the Atlanta Streetcar, which is forecasted to have 2,600 boardings per day.

The design and construction of phase one of the Atlanta Streetcar is expected to take approximately two years, with construction beginning in 2012 and service expected to commence in 2013. The streetcar is the first phase of a regional transit system that includes the Atlanta BeltLine and connects to MARTA. The Atlanta Streetcar will be compatible with the MARTA Breeze fare system.

“This is a great project for our capital city and the entire Atlanta region,” MARTA CEO Dr. Beverly A. Scott said. “At MARTA, we are very proud to be a key part of the public-private partnership that worked nonstop to bring this important project home for our region. No question, this is just the beginning of what we can do to leverage federal funding when we work together -- build on our collective assets and bring the full strength of our local and federal leadership to bear.”

Dr. Scott added: “Mayor Reed brought determined leadership and laser focus to stay the course on this project. And, our Congressional delegation led by Congressman Lewis was wonderful.”

The Atlanta Streetcar’s capital costs are being funded by a $47.6 million TIGER II grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation plus local match funding from the City of Atlanta and the Downtown Improvement District. The $47.6 million was part of a pool of approximately $585 million in discretionary TIGER II federal grant dollars that were divided among almost 80 communities. This grant is the largest single federal allocation awarded to the City of Atlanta for transportation outside of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and MARTA in a decade.

The Downtown CID will contribute about $20 million toward capital, operations and maintenance for the project, and the City of Atlanta will make a contribution of about $15.6 million as part of the local match for capital costs. In addition the City of Atlanta will provide up to $1 million per year from Hotel Motel/Car Rental Tax for on-going operations and maintenance.

“The award represents a significant vote of confidence for what the City of Atlanta is advancing in the areas of transportation and economic development,” said A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress. “We express sincere gratitude to Mayor Reed for successfully leading the effort to win this extremely competitive grant. We look forward to making it happen in partnership with the City.”

In addition to U.S. Rep. Lewis, strong support from the City’s civic, business and neighborhood groups helped Mayor Reed secure the TIGER II funding, and the members of several such groups attended the announcement.

“Midtown Alliance is thrilled that Atlanta has been awarded $47 million for the first phase of the Atlanta Streetcar on the City’s east-west axis -- this is an important first step towards fulfilling the larger vision, which also includes Peachtree Street from Downtown through Midtown,” said Susan Mendheim, President and CEO of the Midtown Alliance.

“The addition of the streetcar is exactly what Atlanta needs to remain competitive with our peer cities -- it will enhance mobility, connect people to MARTA trains and further encourage smart, transit-friendly growth."

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