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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The Georgia Student Finance Commission collaborated with 49 Georgia colleges to waive application fees in March. This removed barriers for Midtown students who were previously unable to apply to certain colleges.
Georgia Colleges waive application fees, remove barriers
Brennan FrittsApril 15, 2024

The Georgia Student Finance Commission partnered with nearly 50 colleges throughout Georgia to waive their application fees during March. Midtown...

    Beltline and city collaborate to plan for new light rail

    Atlanta+BeltLine+Initiative+%28ABI%29+and+MARTA+are+now+set+to+start+construction+on+the+light+rail+system+in+the+spring+of+2025.
    Atlanta Beltline
    Atlanta BeltLine Initiative (ABI) and MARTA are now set to start construction on the light rail system in the spring of 2025.

    The BeltLine, an Atlanta staple, originated as a graduate thesis by Atlanta resident and Georgia Tech graduate Ryan Gravel in 1999. 

    The plan came across Cathy Woolard’s desk when she was City Council President in 2001, supporting the project after seeing its benefits. Envisioned as transportation circling the city, integrating both a walking path and a light rail track, Eric Goldberg, a BeltLine light rail supporter and transit advocate, says.

    “The BeltLine strives to solve the transportation problem of Atlanta’s ever-growing population and traffic.” 

    Presently, 85 Percent of the BeltLine’s 22-mile loop is either finished or slated for construction within the next year and a half. Atlanta BeltLine Initiative (ABI) and MARTAare now set to start construction on the light rail system, in the spring of 2025.

    In 2008, when the city started clearing space for the BeltLine and its intentions were still fairly unknown, Goldberg The possibilities.

    “I realized it would be both an economic driver and connector of neighborhoods early on, both as a recreational trail and transit corridor,” Goldberg said.

    The original movement that created BeltLine was centered around transit. People came together from all around the city because they loved the concept of the BeltLine. Organizations both nationally and locally, as well as city and state governments, came together to fund and build the idea. 

    “When Cathy Woolard ran for mayor, she made BeltLine transit (i.e. — rail) the centerpiece of her platform, and that was nirvana to me,” Goldberg said. “Infrastructure projects are a fantastic way for a mayor to make one’s mark, and the vision of this project is as transformational today as it was in the early 2000s.”

     

     

    Since the BeltLine broke ground in 2008, much of the 22-mile loop has been constructed. As the BeltLine is pivoting to the transit stage, and plans are being developed for the first segment of the Eastside trail between Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market, connecting the downtown trolley to the BeltLine, concerned citizens are voicing their opinions. A newly formed organization called “Better Atlanta Transit” is looking to have a public debate about transit installation. 

    Gravel released an October report from the non-profit  “BeltLine Rail Now! shows that 12 of 16 neighborhood planning units with 255,000 people in 2018 are in support of BeltLine rail. Support for the project is overwhelming.”

    Improper and insufficient funding has always been a major issue for BeltLine development, Goldberg said.

    “Because securing funding for a project of this size is difficult, ABI decided that the trail would come first,” Goldberg said. “Money was raised through a Tax Allocation District (TAD). But a recession hit in 2008, slowing down the TAD and trail construction. Nothing has changed in terms of project goals and implementation.”

    According to Better Atlanta Transit,“Linear Parks” are a type of park that is significantly longer than it is wide and they will turn into heat islands, removing trees and meadows for rail. BAT is also concerned about further overcrowding and congestion, the possible harm to businesses due to construction blocking access to customers, and barriers and crossing limitations after the rail is complete. 

    “It’s mostly people’s fear of change and a lack of information,” Goldberg said. “For instance, one hears a lot of misinformation: there’s going to be a tall concrete barrier built separating trail and rail. Or the light rail cars won’t fit in the transit corridor. Or light rail is going to ruin the BeltLine. Nothing is being taken away. Light rail will run next to the recreation trail.”

    There are also concerns about how long Beltline rail will take to construct and its cost, and those issues also concern Goldberg.

    “MARTA projects BeltLine rail to be completed in 2045-2050,” Goldberg said.“That’s too long. Other major cities have built light rail projects of comparable size in a decade.”

    Even though it may take some time to construct, Gravel and BeltLine rail supporters worry about the outcomes if rail isn’t built. There are concerns that without better in-town mass transit options, our city will suffer against the huge growth we have seen and will continue to see. This may mean every trip to work, school, or store that could be accessed through transit, will be forced onto city streets, worsening traffic. 

    ”The lack of functioning transit will worsen our housing crises, racial and income disparities, and other negative outcomes of Atlanta’s incredible growth,” Gravel said. “Rather than improving our lives, growth without transit will impoverish them.”

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    About the Contributor
    Hayes Patton
    Hayes Patton, Writer
    Hayes is a sophomore in his first year on the Southerner staff. He enjoys running and competes with TSA.

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