Construction underway for Atlanta Streetcar Project - KMSP-TV

Construction underway for Atlanta Streetcar Project

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ATLANTA -

It's been in the works for years, and soon streetcars will be coming back to the streets of Atlanta. Last week, construction began as crews started laying down the rail on several main roads.

The Atlanta Streetcar Project first started 10 years ago and finally, there's light at the end of the tunnel as construction begins, and more and more people are getting excited. The route will stretch from Centennial Olympic Park to the King Center.

Lynne Ridenour was visiting the city for the first time from the Augusta suburbs.

"We're here just to tour everything. We're going to go to the cemetery, the zoo, the aquarium -- walk around and see what there is to see," said Ridenour.

This time next year construction will be ending, and many of those sites will be connected with a modern streetcar transit system.

"It would be fun. I think it would be maybe easier to get around, and not just wander aimlessly," Ridenour said.

This month crews began laying the rail on Edgewood Avenue, bringing back streetcars to the city for the first time since 1949.

"We're even finding some of the old rail still underneath the street, so rail is returning to this area," said Tom Weyandt, senior transportation policy advisor for the city of Atlanta. "In not too long, they'll be paving it back over and you'll have rails in the street."

The first phase includes an east to west route connecting the King Center to Centennial Olympic Park.

"When completed, we fully expect that this will contribute significantly to the well-being of not only this community, but of the city of Atlanta," said Weyandt.

City planners hope the 12-stop line through the heart of the business, tourism and convention corridor will help bring sections of the city back to life.

"It will also be an economic revitalization to this part of town," Weyandt said. "Our expectation is that we may be developing streetcars for many years to come in Atlanta."

The streetcars will also connect MARTA's bus and rail systems, will run every 15 minutes, and will continue to expand in the future.

So even though it's not only for tourists, Ridenour sure is looking forward to her next visit.

The Atlanta Streetcar Project is a joint effort by the city, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District and MARTA. Planners hope it will be completed by spring of next year. In the long term, the vision also expands north to south from Brookhaven to Fort McPherson and connecting to the Atlanta beltline.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other city leaders hope to spur more investment along the streetcar project corridor. They announced tax incentives on Tuesday in hopes of spurring economic growth along Auburn and Edgewood avenues. 

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