Efforts to build a Grand Central-like transportation hub in downtown Atlanta just got a big lift. The White House has selected Atlanta’s Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal project for expedited federal permitting.
The proposed terminal has been added to a small list of high-priority projects from across the country because of its potential to spur economic activity and job growth.
One study says the terminal would bring 15,000 jobs to downtown Atlanta.
Selection to the list means fast–track treatment by federal agencies – what would have been about a five-year environmental review process, now will only take about two years.
“Every agency will now move this to the top of the stack and it will help expedite time and shave off the overall duration of the process,” said Jim Richardson, one of the project’s lead developers.
Richardson now says it’s possible to have the project completed as early as 2017-2018.
The proposed terminal would be located in what many Atlantans refer to as the “Gulch”, a vast area of concrete and parking lot space near the Georgia Dome and CNN Center.
The terminal would act as a central hub for buses, rail lines, and taxis. Early project designs include a retail and office component.
MARTA chief Beverly Scott says the project’s selection to the federal list proves it has regional and national significance. She says it will make a big difference in getting shovels in the ground.
“Every once in a while you have an opportunity to be able to really deal with something that’s absolutely transformational. Been in this industry for 35 years – I can tell you that’s what this is.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who has been stumping vigorously for “yes” votes for the upcoming transportation tax referendum, welcomed the decision and said the terminal is another critical step in moving metro Atlanta forward.
“It’s going to make sure we remain the leading city in the Southeast and a respected city in the world.”
State officials estimate about a billion dollar price tag on the project, all of which still needs to be lined up.