The "Gulch" area of downtown Atlanta in the foreground (Atlanta Business Chronicle)
ATLANTA -- The Georgia Department of Transportation signed a two-year $12.2 million contract Monday with the private consortium that will develop a long-awaited transit hub in downtown Atlanta.
The consortium, which includes Atlanta-based Cousins Properties Inc., will oversee planning for the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in the "Gulch" area, an underutilized portion of downtown between the CNN Center and the Georgia Capitol.
The MMPT is envisioned as the connecting point for bus and passenger rail service that would radiate from downtown Atlanta in all directions of the metro region, relieving traffic congestion by giving commuters an alternative to their cars.
"No one wants to sit in traffic for hours," U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, said during a news conference held on the roof of a parking deck overlooking the Gulch. "Completing the MMPT is a major and necessary step in the right direction."
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said the MMPT would connect a downtown streetcar line soon to be under construction with the planned Beltline, a 22-mile loop of transit routes linking many in-town neighborhoods with the city's commercial centers.
Along with its transportation benefits, the MMPT also is intended as a catalyst for transit-oriented development in an underutilized area now dominated by parking lots.
A request for $50 million for the MMPT failed to make the final $6.1 billion list of highway and transit projects metro-Atlanta voters will be asked to fund next year through a regional transportation sales tax.
But Reed said the MMPT doesn't need those sales tax funds because other sources of money would become available through the public-private partnership planning to develop the project.
"It's strong enough to stand on its own," the mayor said. "It's going to have a number of partners."
Joining Cousins Properties in the consortium is a second Atlanta-based company, The Integral Group LLC, and Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises Inc.
(Atlanta Business Chronicle)