John F. Schaffner
I have been consistent in my objections to the Peachtree Road streetcar proposal. I think it is folly for this city to be considering an unnecessary streetcar system when there are so many infrastructure needs that continue to go unattended.
I listened to the City Council debate July 20 to authorize another $600,000 study — admittedly paid for with private funds from Central Atlanta Progress and the Midtown Alliance — so that the city can apply for federal stimulus funds to build a streetcar system essentially from downtown to Midtown.
Councilwoman Anne Fauver pegged it correctly: If the streetcar doesn’t go to Buckhead — to Piedmont Hospital, to the Shepherd Center, to Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza (for some reason she forgot the forthcoming Streets of Buckhead) —it is meaningless and will not have enough riders to make it worthwhile.
But Fauver and a lot of us here in Buckhead know that the streetcar is not a popular idea with people in Buckhead, not even with Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell. We don’t need the extra taxes to pay for something we are not going to ride.
Besides, we already have the Peach bus that goes from Lenox Square to Midtown and downtown for those who like to ride instead of walking. And what would the churchgoers ever do on Sunday if they could not park along Peachtree because those lanes would have tracks for the streetcar.
But the main reason I oppose the idea is that it is just another unnecessary expenditure of dollars — private or public — that could better be spent on more worthwhile and meaningful things.
Councilman C.T. Martin, who doesn’t always wax eloquent, hit the nail on the head: It’s just another case of “Atlanta being big on glamour … when it has not dealt with the basics.”
What basics? Councilwoman Felicia Moore, whose Dist. 9 includes part of the western edge of Buckhead, explained that her district still has unpaved dirt streets and areas that lack sidewalks and curbs along the streets. We have potholes all over the city and metal plates providing cover for holes. As Massell has said, have you ever seen a streetcar on tracks that was able to cross a metal plate in the road?
This streetcar, or trolley, is a folly that just won’t die because our officials are into glitz and glamour instead of real substance. Let it die, please, and address real problems.