FTA Letter Received
Atlanta's modern streetcar has received a letter from the Federal Transit Administration warning about "critical issues" affecting the 2.7 mile car line from Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King, Jr. tourism attraction downtown, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Overhead electrical problems, technical expertise and safety are among the FTA concerns. Recipients of the letter included Mayor Kasim Reed. "The problems could spell trouble for Atlanta’s bid for a new federal TIGER 7 grant worth $29.3 million. Reed hopes to use the money to extend the streetcar to the Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail."
Specifically, the “critical issues” raised in the letter include:
- The suspension of streetcar service in July because of multiple defects with its overhead electrical system
- Failure to maintain contracts with vendors for maintenance services
- Poorly developed and implemented operating procedures
- Lack of technical expertise because of high turnover
- Significant leadership and staffing vacancies
- Failure to comply with the state’s accident reporting requirements
The letter placed blame with both the city government and with transit agency MARTA.
Peachtree Route Opposed
Long before the opening of Atlanta's streetcar line, plans for expansion have been under discussion. Now a civic group president is objecting to one expansion idea, the Reporter Newspapers site reports. Gordon Certain objects to building a car line along Peachtree Road.
In addition to the projected cost of $375 million to build the 13-mile line, Certain said the Peachtree line was untenable because there is no room for a dedicated travel lane for the streetcars. He said streetcars traveling in traffic lanes and stopping for signals and at stations would cause chaos.
At-Large City Councilmember Mary Norwood said the concept of a streetcar line on Peachtree had been under discussion since around 2006. “I was opposed to it then and I’m completely opposed to it now,” she said.
Norwood recounted a visit by streetcar experts from America, France, and Canada during the early consideration of a streetcar line. Shedrove them from Downtown to Buckhead and asked if a streetcar would work along Peachtree. “They all said it wouldn’t work and we didn’t need it,” Norwood said.
AT&T Relocation Fee Denied
AT&T Georgia is not entitled to reimbursement of the millions it spent to move its facilities out of the way of the Atlanta Streetcar, a judge has ruled according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution site.
The utility company sued the City and MARTA last December, requesting reimbursement for more than $5 million it spent when it was ordered to relocate cables, wires and conduits ahead of streetcar construction.
Atlanta and MARTA refused to pay, insisting that the city has “the inherent authority” to force AT&T to move its equipment in the public right of way. Fulton Superior Court Judge Doris Downs agreed, according to an order issued this week. AT&T is considering whether to pursue further legal action.
TIGER Grant Not Awarded
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on October 29 that the city failed to win a federal TIGER grant for an extension of its modern streetcar line and will have to go back to the drawing boards to find a way of financing the car line. The bid for $29.3 million in federal transportation money to fund the extension of the streetcar system to the Beltline’s Eastside Trail was denied.
Grants totaling $500 million were awarded to projects in 34 states in this round, including $15 million to support extending Tacoma, Washington’s streetcar line. No George project was funded in this round. Atlanta in past years was awarded two TIGER grants.