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Major train/bus terminal for Atlanta gets fast-track help

7:49 PM, Jul 26, 2012   |    comments
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  • Artist rendering of proposed Multi-Model Passenger Terminal. (From Georgia DOT)
  • Artist rendering of proposed Multi-Model Passenger Terminal. (From Georgia DOT)
  • Atlanta's third and final Union Station, 1946. (From the Georgia State University Library Special Collection.)

ATLANTA - For more than a century, Atlanta had a major transportation hub right downtown.

Union Station rivaled the one in Washington, D.C. and Grand Central in New York City.

The first was built in 1853 and the third was torn down in 1970 when passenger trains had faded from America's scene.

Since then, the site has been a large open area known as the "gulch", crossed by the occasional freight train, used for parking and overgrown with weeds.

But on Friday morning, the gulch will be fast-tracked to possibly return to its glory days.

For the past couple of decades, planners have been working on the possibility of a new, modern transportation hub on the blighted spot.

Called the Multi-Model Passenger Terminal, it would be a central hub for trains and buses from all over the region and the state.

Now President Obama is about to fast-track the project by making it part of the Dashboard Initiative he announced last January during his State of the Union address.

"This is another block in our future," Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed told 11 Alive News on Thursday.

He spoke about the new development, first reported by 11 Alive's news partner, The Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Federal approval will mean that the project could clear environmental approval in as few as 18 months instead of the more normal 4 years.

"The Multi-Model system is going to bring more transit and greater connectivity and give us more energy as the economic center of the South," Mayor Reed added.

Even though the two are separate issues, some had speculated that the Obama administration might hold off on fast-tracking the proposed transportation hub until they saw how the metro area and Georgia voted on next Tuesday's transportation sales tax referendum.

But that's obviously not the case.

Mayor Reed and Congressman John Lewis (D-Atlanta) are set to make a formal announcement at a site overlooking the gulch Friday morning.

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