A Not-So-Loopy Idea

Atlanta's new railway loop proposal may yet survive the usual onslaught of bureaucracy and red tape.
November 24, 2003, 10am PST | David Gest
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"[Atlanta's] Beltline proposal, a plan to build a trolley, light rail, fancy bus, or some other kind of transit system on a 22-mile loop of rarely used train tracks that circle the city, is one of the few transit projects leaving the realm of the pipe dream." Developers are heavily supporting the project, eager to profit from expanded access to relatively remote industrial sites around the city. To pay for the system, local officials want "to create a localized district that taxes itself, called a Tax Allocation District." The idea for the loop actually came from then-graduate planning student Ryan Gravel, who envisioned the scheme in his master's thesis. "Within three years, the Beltline proposal had made it onto the...Georgia Regional Transportation Authority's lists of transportation projects that may one day get built." Many of the setbacks in the approval process "are a result of war between the build-more-roads advocates who claim the high cost of rail rarely justify the expenditures, and the city planning wonks who envision a world where commuters don't own cars." Can the loop idea survive?

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Thursday, November 20, 2003 in Creative Loafing Atlanta
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