The Atlanta streetcar will traverse an economically distressed area of downtown, serving as a catalyst for millions of dollars in new residential, official and retail development. It also reconnects the eastern and western sides of the city that have been divided by two interstate highways for half a century. The streetcar will eventually serve about 7,000 people who live within a quarter-mile of the route, as well as more than five million tourists and convention-goers. Operated by Metropolitan Rapid Transit Authority, it will include 12 stops with access to major attractions like the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and the historic Auburn Avenue corridor, which is the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement. The line will also connect with MARTA's heavy rail and bus systems and city bicycle routes.
The streetcar project heeds President Obama's call for a new era for American energy, fueled by homegrown and alternative energy sources, and because the streetcar will be powered by electricity, it will produce zero emissions. Throughout construction of the line, the city of Atlanta, MARTA and all other stakeholders will use sustainable building materials, recycled materials and renewable energy sources to make the system as "green" as possible. And overall, locally expanding transit options will help reduce vehicle miles traveled, which lessens dependence on oil and reduces emissions.
In October, 2010 $47.6 million was awarded for the streetcar project through the second round of TIGER grants. 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 and MARTA.
The City and ADID funded the balance of the project.