Atlanta Streetcar Project Reaches Major Milestone

According to MARTA’s website

The MARTA Board of Directors today unanimously approved the design-build contract for the Atlanta Streetcar Project.  MARTA selected the firm URS Corporation after a competitive procurement process.

“A few weeks ago, the city broke ground on the construction of the Atlanta Streetcar,” said Mayor Reed.  “The approval of the design-build contract for the Atlanta Streetcar is another important step forward for this vital project and underscores the city’s commitment to build a new, world-class transit system that will benefit residents and visitors for years to come.”

URS is a leading provider of engineering, construction and technical services that has been involved in streetcar projects nationwide, including cities such as Portland, Spokane, Tucson, Dallas, Seattle, Tacoma, Charlotte and Tampa. The firm has also teamed with prominent companies including C.W. MatthewsG.W. Peoples and seven minority or disadvantaged business enterprises based in the Atlanta area.

“MARTA is extremely excited to move forward on this very innovative public-private partnership with our longstanding local and federal partners,” said MARTA General Manager/CEO Dr. Beverly A. Scott.  “This visionary City initiative is the first significant transit expansion project in our region in over a decade.  It marks a real milestone.  By connecting the Sweet Auburn District, King Center and Centennial Olympic Park, the Streetcar will enhance economic activity in the downtown area and improve the overall quality of life for our citizens.”

The Atlanta Streetcar project is a cooperative effort by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) and MARTA. The 2.6-mile line will run through the heart of Atlanta’s business, tourism and convention corridor, bringing jobs and new economic development to the city.  It is expected to serve as a catalyst for millions of dollars in new residential, office and retail development.

Operated by MARTA under contract to the City of Atlanta, the streetcar line will include 12 stops with access to major attractions like the World of Coca-Cola, CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement.  The line, which reconnects the two halves of downtown that were disconnected by freeway construction, will also directly connect with MARTA’s rail and bus systems with eventual connectivity to the Atlanta BeltLine.

“On behalf of the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, we are pleased to reach this milestone in the Atlanta Streetcar project,” said A.J. Robinson, president, Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.  “Awarding URS the design-build contract for this important Downtown initiative is a critical and exciting step, and we look forward to the economic development opportunities the Atlanta Streetcar will provide.”

The Atlanta Streetcar is the first phase of what will be a city-wide and potentially region-wide alternative transportation system.  The Atlanta Streetcar provides the “last mile” link from MARTA to important activity centers in the downtown.  New bicycle facilities and upgraded sidewalks and pedestrian environments are all part of the Atlanta Streetcar project.

“This contract with URS represents a significant step forward for the Streetcar project and underscores our region’s commitment to building a better way through transit investment,” said MARTA Board Chairman Frederick L. Daniels, Jr.  “The MARTA Board and staff are pleased to be partnering with the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District and Federal Transit Administration on this great project that is not only creating jobs during construction but, once completed, will also enhance access to work, educational, and recreational opportunities in the downtown corridor.”

“We are very pleased with this award, and welcome the opportunity to continue our relationship with the City of Atlanta and MARTA,” said Ed Hrinewski, URS Project Director for the Atlanta Streetcar.  “URS has exceptional experience in designing modern streetcar systems, and previously worked with MARTA beginning in 2002 on the development and expansion of Atlanta’s rapid transit system.  We look forward to contributing to this important project, which we expect will benefit the community by promoting job creation and increasing the public’s ability to travel via public transit.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled to Atlanta in February to kick-off the utility relocation construction.  In 2010, LaHood announced a $47.6 million grant for the streetcar project through the Transportation Department’s second round of TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).  It was the largest of the capital TIGER II grants awarded in 2010.  The project is a cooperative effort by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID) and MARTA.  The City and ADID funded the local balance of the project.

The $46.6 million design-build contract is funded by the TIGER II grant, Livable Centers Initiatives grants, and a local match provided by the City of Atlanta and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.

Design will begin immediately.  Construction of the alignment will commence in July 2012 and service for the Atlanta Streetcar is scheduled to begin in fall 2013.

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