Final streetcar date pushed back, construction hurting local businesses

Ed Hrinewski, Atlanta Streetcar Project Director, recently announced that the project deadline for the Atlanta streetcar will be pushed back to the second week of January.

The construction sites are affecting road conditions near the Aderhold Learning Center and students are dealing with debris from the road work even while construction is not in progress.

“I got a nail in my tire while I was picking up a friend near Aderhold,” Caitlin Joyce, sophomore graphic design major, said.

Drivers are not the only students being affected by the road conditions.

There have been two bicycle accidents due to construction in the past two weeks, one of which led to injury of a Georgia State student.

Alex Mills, Atlanta Streetcar Safety Manager, addressed this issue and said to spread the word to pedestrians and bicyclists not to travel near or on construction zones.

He also mentioned upcoming campaigns that will aim to raise awareness of bicycle safety throughout downtown Atlanta.

The Atlanta Streetcar project has provided signs stating that ‘Business are open during construction come on in!’ for the surrounding businesses, the construction zones are limiting the access people have to the stores.

The owner of Mangos Caribbean Restaurant on Auburn Avenue said that he had to take out a $25,000 loan in order to make up for the loss of business.

“The streetcar has killed the business that I have,” he said.

According to the owner of Mangos, businesses on Auburn Ave. lost 20 parking spaces this past month, because an Atlanta Streetcar station is being built where a public parking lot once was.

Business owners were told, at the construction update meeting, that every streetcar holds the amount of people equivalent to 177 automobiles.

Atlanta Streetcar representatives reassured the downtown business owners that the streetcar is not going to harm business once it opens, and that the streetcar is an investment towards the success and growth of downtown.

Sandra Allen Walker, the Atlanta Streetcar Community Relations Manager, acknowledged the construction on the project’s website.

“During construction, there will be periodic road and lane closures, detours, and other disruptions in regular patterns of traffic. These unfortunate inconveniences are necessary for the installation of in-ground tracks, overhead wires, and other components necessary for the operation of the Atlanta Streetcar.”

Meanwhile, the construction on Auburn Ave. between Peachtree Street and Courtland Street continues to affect student drivers who park in Georgia State’s T-Deck parking lot.

“Because of all the construction on campus, it’s like driving on a dirt road,” Jake Durham, sophomore managerial science major, said.

Construction near T-Deck is taking longer then expected.

Despite the immediate negative effects of the Atlanta Streetcar, President Mark Becker said in the 2013 State of the University Address that the project will ultimately benefit downtown Atlanta.

“The Atlanta streetcar project will further enhance development throughout and around Georgia State when it comes online next year,” President Becker said.