Atlanta Streetcar Project nears completion

After years of planning and development, the Atlanta Streetcar is in its final stages and is expected to be completed by mid-to-late April 2014.

Construction work is currently being done on Peachtree Street, Auburn Avenue and Park Place.

“We are 90 percent complete with construction. Work on the Peachtree and Aderhold area is the last major piece of construction work to be done,” Sharon Gavin, communications director for the Streetcar Project, said.

Since its inception, the Atlanta Streetcar Project (ASCP) has undergone multiple postponements from projected project deadlines. Previously, the Streetcar was expected to be operational by the second week of January.

“Weather delays have been an issue, but the unexpected has been the biggest setback. But unexpected utilities issues, such as unmapped gaslines and water pipes, would be dug up,” Gavin said.

An update on the ASCP’s official website recommends that drivers who would normally utilize those roads take Forsyth Street as an alternative, noting that Broad Street is accessible only to local traffic.

While the ASCP is currently designed to offer missing transit links to currently operating public transportation services in the downtown area, future expansions of the ASCP are expected to offer connectivity to the Atlanta BeltLine as well.

“It’s part of the Connect Atlanta Plan. The goal is to connect all public transportation to create an interconnected Atlanta,” Gavin said.

Gavin said she expects the project to be a future economic driver and provide the means for Atlanta residents to travel downtown without using their own vehicles. Even so, the project hasn’t received universal praise.

The ASCP has previously received criticism from local business owners who claimed that construction has been a hindrance to their everyday operations.

Matthew Nelson, owner of Mangos Caribbean Restaurant on Auburn Avenue, said that he has taken out a total of $40,000 in loans to compensate for declining business. Nelson says that while the overall situation has improved, normalcy is still a ways off.

“Things have improved because construction in front of my store is out of the way, but construction on Peachtree Street and Auburn Avenue is still a problem,” Nelson said.

Those without large financial burdens have expressed their concerns as well. Many students have taken issue with the construction’s interference with their ability to move around campus.

Sophomore Jessica Dias said that the project has considerably impacted her ability to commute.

“It really does affect my travel time so I’m glad that it’s almost done,” Dias said.

Despite the current and past inconveniences to local residents, the project’s architects said they expect the end result to yield remarkable economic growth in the years to come.

Tim Borchers, executive director of the ASCP, said that he acknowledges the issues that the project has caused to local residents but firmly believes that the economic benefits of the project will outweigh any current inconveniences faced by business owners and commuters.

“We’re already seeing plans for commercial and residential development around the streetcar,” Borchers said.