2/14: Streetcars worth the investment?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Ground has been broken on construction of a new streetcar line in downtown Atlanta. The federal government is funding about half the cost, which the city estimates at $84.7 million.

Critics point to expensive subsidies needed to build and run streetcars, while supporters I spoke with claim the economic runoff in jobs and infrastructure is well worth the investment.

What do you think?

34 comments Add your comment


February 15th, 2012
7:08 am

Not wishing failure… I just don’t expect success and see the money as already wasted. Historically significant, yes, but its mismanagement has been part of its blight, and federal taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden to fix it.


February 14th, 2012
11:50 pm

I firmly believe that this amount of federal money ($47 million) is worth spending in this historically significant downtown area. It sounds like a lot, but larger amounts of federal money than this are spent statewide every year on transportation and community development projects.

The federal money spent on this streetcar project is, in part, providing an investment in area that contains the home and final resting place of one of Georgia’s greatest treasures, Martin Luther King, Jr. The blight that neighbors part of the King memorial site should be a source of shame for the city and deserves economic attention.

Also, the historical significance of the Sweet Auburn neighborhood, destroyed in large part by the downtown connector, can’t be understated here. This is a place that unfairly suffered disinvestment and abandonment after the construction of the dual interstates. I think it’s also deserving of this kind of investment.

For me, the real question is whether or not the streetcar project is going to have success in bringing new businesses and vitality to its route. Downtown Phoenix has benefited from a similar rail project. It’s possible that we could see success here.

Asking about the worth of this investment is a great way to attract naysayers. But the real shame would be if this negativity ended up hurting the chances for success. The money has already been granted and the construction of the line has started. Wishing failure on the project at this point could both waste the funding and condemn historically-significant parts of Atlanta to decades more blight and disinvestment.


February 14th, 2012
3:00 pm

Some say the trolley will spark development along the line. I don’t believe it. Look at the area around the aquariam, millions of turist flock to the area and there is very little in terms of street vibrancy. Restuarants and watching kids run through fountains in the park during the warmer months don’t make a city vibrant. I have spent a lot of time in Baltimore near the aquariam, the area is bustling with shopping and stree activity.

Urban Republican

February 14th, 2012
1:08 pm

After 5pm traffic leaves the area it is a virtual ghost town with no spark or excitement. Visitors to the King Center scatter before dark. Students at Georgia State University make a mad dash to their dorms to avoid being harassed and robbed after sundown. The “brilliant” politicians at City Hall who represent the area and support the trolley are never seen walking, shopping or visiting the area unless it is election season. Guess when it is time to troll for votes they will be able to use the Atlanta Trolley!