ATLANTA – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today joined Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to tour the east side of the Atlanta BeltLine, calling it an example of the sort of large-scale job creation and transportation investment that Congress can make possible nationwide by reauthorizing a long-term transportation bill this year. The Secretary's visit is part of his Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour, a multi-state tour highlighting the urgent need to invest in America's transportation infrastructure at a time when the nation's surface transportation programs are set to expire and the Highway Trust Fund is running out of money.
"Projects like the Atlanta BeltLine not only create jobs when they're being built, but help connect thousands of Americans to better opportunities by providing better access to work and school," said Secretary Foxx. "I'm traveling across the country all week to highlight projects like this that show the difference we can make if we invest in America and commit to the future – because just fixing what we have today isn't going to help us meet the transportation needs of the future."
The completed Atlanta BeltLine is expected to include a 22-mile streetcar loop with connections to the existing Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) rail system and the downtown Atlanta Streetcar Project, which is currently under construction and expected to open later this year. In addition to significantly improving access to transit options for thousands of residents in the Atlanta region, the BeltLine connects to affordable housing; hiking and walking trails; a skate park; and open parkland.
The Department of Transportation provided $18 million to support the Beltline project from its popular TIGER grant program in FY 2013, in addition to a separate $47.7 million TIGER grant in FY 2010 for Atlanta's streetcar. All told, the federal, state, and local investment in these projects has spurred significant private investment in the surrounding area. Since 2005, more than 100 projects representing more than $1 billion in private investment have begun taking shape around the Atlanta BeltLine, including $775 million in new real estate development within a half mile of the project's Eastside Trail and 1,000 apartment units under construction around the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Later this year, the landmark Ponce City Market nearby will reopen as a large, mixed-use site with housing, retail, and office space.
After touring the BeltLine, Secretary Foxx spoke about the Administration's plan to address the infrastructure deficit with a $302 billion, four-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal. The plan will invest in our national infrastructure network, increase safety and efficiency and provide greater access to ladders of opportunity, all without adding to the deficit. Later this month, Secretary Foxx and President Obama will send a bill to Congress that will make this vision a reality and put more Americans back to work repairing and modernizing our roads, bridges, railways, and transit systems.
"Throughout our history, Americans have always been able to leave their children a brighter future, thanks in part to the opportunities transportation has provided," said Secretary Foxx. "We are at risk of failing our children. We need to not only invest in America, but commit to the future – not only rebuild and repair our transportation infrastructure, but reimagine how we do it."
Secretary Foxx's Invest in America, Commit to the Future bus tour is taking him through eight states in five days. The tour includes visits to manufacturers, bridges, freight facilities and highway projects in an effort to raise awareness of America's infrastructure needs. Secretary Foxx is visiting with business leaders, stakeholders and community members to discuss how transportation projects are making a difference, and to highlight infrastructure gaps that we need to fill in order to promote economic growth and American competitiveness.
To follow the trip's progress, please click here