Pros & Cons of Atlanta BeltLine in the NY Times

February 15, 2013 12:21 pm

by Bridget Cantrell · 9 comments

It looks like a lot of people want to be up in our business this week. #kindofabigdeal.  The NY Times discusses the Atlanta BeltLine.

ATLANTA — Until last year, the old railroad tracks that snaked through east Atlanta were derelict. Kudzu, broken bottles and plastic bags covered the rusting rails.

The Eastside Trail, as the path is known, is one of the first legs of an ambitious proposal that has been in the works since the early 2000s — to transform 22 miles of vine-covered railroad into parks, housing and public transit around Atlanta.

But the Eastside Trail is only a start. And while some civic boosters, among them Mr. Reed, are calling for the pace to accelerate (he wants to see the entire loop paved and streetcars installed within a decade), the fulfillment of the grand plan, called the Atlanta BeltLine, is not assured.

Voters last year rejected a penny sales tax that would have allotted $600 million. And a special property tax, created in 2005, has generated less revenue than expected before the market collapse. Last week, the State Supreme Court heard arguments from a group of taxpayers who say school taxes have been spent unconstitutionally to pay for part of the BeltLine.

Critics have urged that the project be scaled back. The city’s biggest transit challenge, they argue, is not beautifying in-town neighborhoods but reducing gridlock from the suburbs.

“The BeltLine doesn’t go where people want or need to go,” said Michael Dobbins, an architecture professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who has studied the project’s feasibility. “The parks and trails are great, but it makes no sense to add streetcars while traffic elsewhere is so bad, especially in this economy.”

novicegirl February 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm

People need to quite pretending the Beltline is a transportation plan and call it what it is: a redevelopment plan. Not saying a bunch of new condos and coffee shops are necessarily a bad thing, but the transportation talk is simple a misdirection technique on the taxpayers.

bird February 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm

It is both. I think of it more as an economic development initiative, but it would connect a lot of neighborhoods to MARTA. Just walk up the Eastside Trail, and realize everyone within 1/4 mile of that trail could easily take the streetcar directly to MARTA’s east/west line.

Baker February 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I prefer Grey Lady…

Scott65 February 15, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I dont particularly care if traffic is bad outside of Atlanta…people voted, and now they will get what they voted for. If Atlanta wants to make itself more attractive to business thats their right. Oh, and spare the “I’m not paying for their beltline” whine…cause you dont get to make that choice…whine at your rep in the legislature…they have better things to ruin for example:
http://consumerist.com/2013/02/14/georgia-law-would-ban-public-broadband-service-if-just-one-person-has-so-so-internet-access/?

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm

The critics of the Beltline are wrong. Reducing gridlock from the suburbs is not the responsibility of the government of the City of Atlanta, it is the responsibility of the State of Georgia as is the case in every state with a very large urban population.

saltycracker February 17, 2013 at 7:55 am

The beltline is going to reduce gridlock ? Show us the numbers…..

The Last Democrat in Georgia February 17, 2013 at 8:29 am

At its heart, the Beltline is a real estate development project, which means that if successfully executed it is more likely to increase gridlock than reduce it.

Spacey G February 17, 2013 at 11:28 am

Insert a Chip Rogers’ tinfoil quote here.

Harry February 17, 2013 at 2:10 pm

One private party next to the beltline is already complaining about influx of traffic and illegal parking. Boots will be applied….a word to the wise.

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