Last time in this series, I talked about an organization called Better Atlanta Transit that counter to its name, wants to end all talk of having light rail alongside the Beltline Trail, the very popular, used-to-be-murder-tracks encircling central Atlanta that’s now a multipurpose trail, linear park, and real estate gentrification money printing machine.
Of course in a way only Upside/DownLand Atlanta could do, we somehow got the multipurpose trail part built first, and are behind in the light rail installation. We now seem to be on the precipice of bringing tracks to the trail but of course the NIMBYs aren’t done yet; under the guise of “making transit in Atlanta better,” they ask “should we be building an old-timey streetcar next to our beautiful trail?”
Of course this was a rallying cry to all rail supporters around our beleaguered metro area, a place which hasn’t seen any serious transit expansion since 2000 when MARTA opened the Red Line northern extension and added Sandy Springs and North Springs stations. We’re not gonna talk about how we’ve added over 1.7 million more people to the metro area since then according to the US Census Bureau. That’s bonkers.
Luckily I’m not the only one all worked up; Nathan Davenport also wanted to get his points across as well, and put together a video to really give insight into what the group is actually saying, why rails on the trails is a smarter idea, and how to get involved.
My take: Having the Beltline without tracks is like having a building with no door or airport with no runway and apparently even Ryan Gravel, the urban designer who dreamed up the city-shaping project as a graduate student at Georgia Tech, said rail transit is the "centerpiece of the Beltline's vision and funding” according to Axios. The opposition group says they’re still in favor of transit options along the corridor, then point at share bikes and scooters, autonomous vehicles and other “gadgetbahnery” to add transit there because “streetcars are old tech."
None of those concepts will offer the real throughput to move people around the corridor, don't help take the most cars off the road, but only help the able-bodied and well-heeled living immediately in the formerly-ghetto-now-ritzy areas around the trail itself. Most importantly isn’t the package we were sold 12 years ago when we voted on the measure.