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Everything posted by dixiecupdrinking

  1. Atlanta's not "there" in terms of the urban vibrancy that makes a city different from a conglomeration of suburbs with a bunch of tall buildings in the middle. In my opinion, that's what separates Atlanta from the A-list cities in this country -- NYC, Chicago, yes, Boston, San Francisco, even L.A., etc. In terms of numbers it is certainly there, with the exception of one: center-city population density. Atlanta: 416,474 people; 3,161 per square mile. New York: 8,008,278 people; 26,402 per square mile. Chicago: 2,896,016 people; 12,750 per square mile. Boston: 589,141 people; 12,165 per square mile. San Francisco: 776,733 people; 16,634 per square mile. Los Angeles: 3,694,820 people; 7,876 per square mile. You can make an argument that density is not the all-important measure many perceive it to be. That's fine, but 3,000/square mile is not remotely near the critical mass necessary to consider most of the city "urban." The suburban town where I live 25 miles from Boston is denser. The unfortunate fact is that tall, impressive buildings on desolate streets do not a great city make. It looks like Atlanta's moving in the right direction, though, as these projects alone could add 10,000 people to the city in high-density developments. I lived there for eight years and was continually frustrated by how the great existing neighborhoods were afloat in a sea of sprawl. I'm optimistic that intown Atlanta can become truly urban. Hopefully, the big-city street level retail and pedestrian activity and diversity will follow.
  2. You know, really you're right. I think I reacted like I did because I'm so frustrated with the "stay the course" attitude of suburban Atlanta (and other cities as well) in the face of issues that clearly have to be addressed. I'd like to see Clayton bite the bullet and pay the $4 million a year they're being asked to pay, because it doesn't sound exorbitant to me. But certainly there does have to be transparency and oversight on the issue, the county shouldn't be locked into paying unknown sums in the future. Based on their track record, however, I would actually be willing to bet that the DOT's "better ways" DO involve asphalt, and lots of it. Are there HOV lanes this far down I-75 yet? If not, $100 mil could shoot 'em all the way to Macon. I don't think that would solve anything, but it's the best that the government has offered to this point.
  3. Martinman -- I think our disagreement about this is partially the result of miscommunication and partially the result of differing perspectives. I certainly agree that transportation and congestion relief is a regional issue in Atlanta and needs to see good regional leadership. But to be perfectly frank I don't see this commuter line easing congestion in Atlanta or taking enough cars off the road that people in other suburbs see much improvement. What it does provide is an alternative mode of transit to those who live in that area and work downtown, as well as ease traffic on that leg of I-75. Eventually if the entire system is completed and a good portion of the 4.5 million in the metro area have access to rail transit -- AND if it has any effect in centralizing people's workplaces intown -- then and only then will it it relieve some congestion and improve the region as a whole. Unfortunately, as much as I like rail I don't believe it'll really take off in Atlanta. Granted, I've been out of Atlanta almost a year now, but unless the cultural climate has changed drastically I can't imagine this project getting public support if proposed as a way to promote downtown density. Yet I think the success of the whole rail system depends on having a critical mass of employment downtown. It seems to me that jobs continue to move to suburban office parks. I'd say that the people I knew who worked in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead, Alpharetta, etc., outnumbered those who worked downtown or in Midtown maybe 5:1. It's a nice idea to have all these transit options converge on Five Points but I think it's a futile one unless many, many people can easily access their workplace from there. Also, I disagree that the aversion to public transportation initiatives is primarily at the state level. Gwinnett and Cobb counties had the opportunity to get on board with MARTA (and Clayton as well if I'm not mistaken) and declined. Their solution instead has been to run buses from the parking lots of malls, and even that idea came only when their traffic situations had undeniably reached quality-of-life reducing levels. It's not all south Georgia homers in the legislature who are to blame for the decisions that have been made to this point. Now it's time for the local municipalities to step up to the plate and take responsibility, if they want to make any progress against this issue that is making life a living hell for their own constituents.
  4. "The state and federal government would pay $106 million for the first three years of capital costs. But Clayton County and its cities with train stops would need to fund operating and maintenance costs not covered by passenger fares. The DOT previously estimated the price tag to be about $4 million annually." Clayton isn't paying for this by itself, but it should certainly bear an increased share of the burden. I think what's really at stake here is the same old aversion to building anything other than highways. It sounds like the right-of-way already entirely exists, that the construction costs are going to be pretty small. It would certainly be nice for Clayton county if they didn't have to pay a dime more than anyone else in Georgia to receive an unprecedented service, but not quite fair.
  5. Yup. Beyond which, the idea that it's unfair for Clayton to pay for this is absurd. Who should pay for it if not Clayton County? People from Gwinnett who will continue to rely on the foolproof, congestion-free HOV lanes? People from Savannah who never will set foot in Atlanta, let alone in a commuter train station in Griffin or Jonesboro? Until this region grows up and wakes up it'll continue to be the emblem of how not to grow as a metropolitan area. Atlanta is so full of itself, with all its claims to being a world-class city, but it's not even close and will become further and further from realizing its potential the longer it tells itself it's doing everything right. Clearly it's not.
  6. Here is one of my favorite pictures of Atlanta. (I'm linking it because at 1400x1050 it's pretty enormous for dial-upers like myself.) I took it from the Highland Ave. overpass over Freedom Parkway. It's one of the best vantage points for the downtown skyline, IMO. I also liked that one with the big AJC watermark looking down Peachtree, though, so maybe y'all will hate this. Pardon the ill-advised sepia but unfortunately I don't have the original one anymore.
  7. As corny as it is, that "Blue Collar TV" show should maybe be listed as being filmed in Atlanta. They shot it at the Fox, and probably still do, if it's still being aired.
  8. Hey y'all, first of all, I'm new here. My name's Ben, I'm originally from the Boston area (South Shore), but lived in Atlanta for the last 8 years. I've been in school in New York for a couple years now, though, and my parents moved back to MA a while ago. There seem to be a significant number of people from the Atlanta area on this forum, which isn't surprising seeing as it's hard to live there and not get caught up in issues of urbanism these days. It's in such a state of flux right now. I'm wondering if there's been any news on the Belt Line project (reclaiming unused freight rail right-of-way that circles the city and using it for light rail, for those unaware). I'm out of the loop (*rim shot*) up here and really hope it's going through for Atlanta. I have a love-hate relationship with the place. Parts of the city are wonderful -- Decatur, Midtown, the dense intown neighborhoods like Va-Highland and Inman Park (which has some of the most gorgeous Victorian houses ever) -- but it's so desperately in need of smart-growth initiatives. The whole region is in danger of being swallowed whole by sprawl; already it feels like the culture of the region is centered on the nouveau-riche tract-mansion mentality of Gwinnett, N. Fulton and Cobb counties. God knows what things will look like in twenty years at this rate -- subdivisions and eight-lane highways all the way to Tennessee and South Carolina? Anyway, enough of that rant. Has the Belt Line been making any progress or has it been swallowed up by that bureaucratic paralysis that seems to stall every transportation idea that doesn't involve adding lanes on highways?
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