I do the majority of my writing and editing for Atlanta INtown at home in the Old Fourth Ward. But once or twice a week, I make my way up Roswell Road to the Springs Publishing offices, and I’ve rediscovered just how bad Atlanta’s traffic really is these days.
My publisher says I’ve been spoiled by the quick car ride to our old office in Poncey-Highland or even walking to our office when it was in Inman Park. He’s right, I am spoiled. However, I can’t help but feel some kinship with commuters who must make their way into (or out of) the city on a daily basis, especially on the utter nightmare that is the Downtown Connector. If only there was a TARDIS (yes, I am a Doctor Who geek) to jump into and show the road planners of the 1950s what a huge mistake they were making by cutting a swath through the middle of the city.
While state and regional politicians seem more interested in adding and expanding roads, city-dwellers and commuters want more transportation options – namely commuter rail. The Atlanta BeltLine will eventually (possibly, maybe, not necessarily in my lifetime) have some kind of rail component, and if the Downtown Atlanta Streetcar proves successful, we might see more expansion.
While we’re in the TARDIS, could we also go back to 1949 and warn the city that ripping out the city’s streetcar network is a terrible idea? Had we kept the streetcar, it would have surely evolved and become not only vital transportation, but a tourist attraction like those in San Francisco and New Orleans.I’ve heard many people call the Atlanta Streetcar project folly, but I have my fingers crossed for its success. I would love to see the streetcar system expand beyond Downtown to connect other communities once again.
My last stop in the TARDIS would be 1972 to stop the demolition of the glorious old Terminal Station, which once stood on the site of what is now the boring Russell Federal Building. The repercussions of Atlanta’s rush to tear down its history (this is the city that was going to allow the destruction of the Fox Theatre until public outcry and a vigorous campaign famously saved it) and modernize are more acutely felt today more than ever. Imagine being able to go to a refurbished Terminal Station and catch a train to the ‘burbs to visit, say, Stone Mountain or Six Flags. Or maybe a daytrip to Athens, Macon or Savannah.
I would also tell my publisher that I am spoiled for transportation options by visiting other cities which seem to manage it quite well: New York, London and Paris, for example. If we are truly a world class city, then we need options. I’m sure my fellow full-time and part-time commuters would love to spend those extra hours with their friends and family rather than sitting in traffic.