The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported on July 15 that the opening of the city's 2.7-mile, $100 million downtown modern streetcar line will be delayed until November.
There have been multiple cost overruns and delays since the project broke ground in February 2013.
Atlanta Streetcar Director Tim Borchers stated that up to four more months would be needed to finish all the tasks on the project’s checklist, assuming no other delays arise. Addressing a City Council committee, Borchers said the system still requires several layers of testing and approvals from MARTA, state, and federal authorities.
The office of Mayor Kasim Reed confirmed the mayor's pledge that the line would open by year's end.
Economic development along the line was cited by the city as indicating that the project is worth waiting for. Since funding for the line was awarded in 2010, 26 projects totalling $370 million in capital investment have been built within a five-minute walk of the route, and another 26 projects worth $375 million are scheduled to be finished in 2014, according to Central Atlanta Progress.
Earlier project delays were caused by harsh winter storms, difficult underground utilities in the way of the track, and a longer process to select a firm to operate the line.
Construction of the line is essentially complete and the contractor formally asked for the project to be considered complete as of July 7. By late July the city will start a 60 to 90-day period of test operation of the line without passengers to train operators and ensure safety provisions are in place.
City Approves Funding
Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that on July 21 voted to approve the city's share of funding for the streetcar project. The City Council voted 9 to 2 to provide up to $1 million annually in operational and maintenance support for the new line. This funding would also help cover startup costs in the first year. The Council also approved charging streetcar riders a $1 fare by a 9 to 1 vote. The funding will come from hotel/motel tax and rental car fees.
Construction cost of the $100 million streetcar received $47 million in Federal funding.
Some councillors are worried that the City's commitment, which could extend to 20 years, might be hard for the city to cover in future years. Others argued that the benefits to the city of the project will outweigh the costs and enable Atlanta to compete with other cities that have already embraced urban rail.