The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that work can begin on the Atlanta Streetcar project, which was awarded $47.6 million from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II Program in October 2010.
"This streetcar project will give people the option to leave the car at home and get to where they need to go in downtown Atlanta," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "In addition to providing safe, clean and affordable transportation options, this project will create jobs, reduce congestion downtown and connect university and hospital resources to public transit stations."
The electric streetcar will run 2.6 miles through the heart of Atlanta's business, tourism and convention corridor. Its planned 12 stops will provide access to residential, cultural, educational and historic centers, including the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the Georgia Aquarium.
"In addition to the convenience this streetcar will provide to the millions of tourists and conventioneers who visit Atlanta each year, it will be a lifeline for thousands of people who live near the new line," FTA administrator Peter Rogoff said. "Atlantans will be able to get to work, students will be able to get to the university and patients will be able to get medical care without having to spend a dime on gas."
The streetcar will connect with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) rail system at Peachtree Center, and with numerous area bus routes. Besides providing easy access to jobs and downtown attractions, the streetcar will spur new development in an economically distressed area. It will also reconnect the eastern and western sections of downtown, which have been separated since Interstate 75/85 was built in the 1950s. Also, the project is expected to create an estimated 930 jobs during construction and more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years. Service is scheduled to begin in 2013.
The Atlanta Streetcar Project was among 75 projects in 40 states that shared $600 million from the Department's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) II Program. The Department received nearly 1,000 construction grant applications for more than $19 billion from all 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. TIGER II grants were awarded to projects that have a significant impact on the nation, a region or metropolitan area.
The projects chosen demonstrate their ability to contribute to the long-term economic competitiveness of the nation, improve the condition of existing transportation facilities and systems, increase energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improve the safety of U.S. transportation facilities or enhance the quality of living and working environments of communities through increased transportation choices and connections. The Department also gave priority to projects that are expected to create and preserve jobs quickly and stimulate rapid increases in economic activity.