A Critical Review of the Atlanta Streetcar Planning Process
Mike Dobbins, professor of the practice of planning at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture and a former commissioner of planning and community development for the city of Atlanta, reviews the planning and political decisions behind the Atlanta Streetcar. In December, the Atlanta City Council approved an extension of the existing streetcar route, including 22 miles of streetcar track running alongside the BeltLine.
Dobbins's review is a critical one, summarized by the following: "While the old railroad segments that make up the BeltLine make a lot of sense for a park and trail system, they are not a solution for the city’s transit problems…" After laying out what a comprehensive transit planning exercise would look like, Dobbins makes the following recommendation:
While a lot of time, money, and effort has gone into trying to make the “solution” fit the problem, with a successful referendum it is not too late to redirect the city’s efforts to catch up with commonsense transit planning. The Legislature last month enabled Atlanta to put forward a referendum in November 2016 or 2017 for a proposed half-percent increase in the city’s sales tax to raise $2.5 billion for transit construction.
According to Dobbins, reborn legislation that would allow Atlanta voters to decide on a half-cent transit tax offers a new chance to start holistic transit planning process.