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MARTA awards contract to finish streetcar expansion design

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(The Center Square) — A Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority committee has awarded a contract to complete the final design for an extension of the Atlanta Streetcar.

The Board of Directors Planning and Capital Programs Committee awarded the $11.5 million contract to Omaha-based HDR. It is part of the roughly $230 million project funded by the More MARTA Atlanta half-penny sales tax.

The project’s cost has increased since September when the agency said it planned to spend $176 to 215 million. MARTA expects work on the roughly two-mile-long eastward extension of the streetcar’s 2.7-mile-long route to start in 2025, and service on the extension should start in 2028.

“MARTA is keenly focused on delivering the nine priority projects identified in the recent resequencing process by 2028,” MARTA Chief Capital Officer Carrie Rocha said in an announcement. “Moving into final design is a critical milestone for this project.”

Atlanta once had a robust network of streetcar and interurban lines. However, the community eliminated the network about 75 years ago.

Last week, MARTA broke ground on a five-mile, 14-station bus rapid transit line in Southeast Atlanta. The line connecting downtown Atlanta with Capitol Gateway, Summerhill, Peoplestown and the Atlanta Beltline is the first in the agency’s BRT system, newly named MARTA Rapid.

In a news release, Rocha called BRT “the future of transit.” The agency expects to start work on the Cleveland Avenue and Metropolitan Parkway arterial rapid transit projects later this year.

According to MARTA, HDR has worked on streetcar projects in more than 30 North American cities. The Atlanta system opened in 2014, and MARTA assumed its operations in 2018.

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