Atlanta Beltline, streetcar project both loved and hated - CBS46 News

Atlanta Beltline, streetcar project both loved and hated

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Construction crews are already working on the Atlanta Beltline Streetcar Project. It's a network of trails, public parks and a streetcar system that will connect 45 Atlanta neighborhoods.

Many supporters of the controversial plan are excited about the possible Streetcar.

"I think it is a good idea. I think it will cut back on exhaust and gas and it will be better for the environment all together. I also think it will be really convenient since it will go straight to Piedmont Park and down," said Kaydee Mattingly, an Atlanta resident.

"The streetcar will begin to provide that last mile connectivity, which really opens up the whole region to new activity," said Tom Weyantt, the Transportation Policy Advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. "It will connect areas like Georgia Tech into areas like the new Ponce City Market, which is the redevelopment of the old Sears building."

Weyantt says the project will also help put people to work.

"It will create jobs very quickly through construction and in time as development begins to gel accessibility improves. This makes these areas very attractive for more residential buildings and more jobs over time," Weyantt said.

Benita Dodd, the Vice President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, disagrees.

"I don't believe that at all. It's a matter of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. We are going to spend a whole lot of money to discover what comes first," Dodd said.

The total cost of the project is north of $600 million. In three weeks, voters will head to the polls to accept or reject a 1 percent sales tax increase which would help pay for the project. Dodd says there is no doubt the region needs to address transportation issues, but she says it shouldn't be done with a project like the Beltline Streetcar.

"Fixed rail is the wrong way to go. With our flexible demographics and with the cost of those kinds of projects and construction, it is just a really bad idea," Dodd said. 

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