Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.
“Tram-Bus” to Be Part of Plan to Cut Paris Car Use
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who pushed last year to convert one of the major roads along the Seine into pedestrian space, is doubling down on her campaign to clear the French capital’s streets and air for the better health of its residents.
The mayor outlined plans last week to cut the number of cars on Paris streets by half and to turn the city center into a car-free zone over the next 10 to 15 years in response to a series of pollution alerts last year. The English-language French newspaper The Connexion reports that one step down that path will be an electric-powered “tram-bus” line that would run in reserved lanes on the Quais Hauts on the Seine’s Right Bank beginning in late 2018. The line would extend 11 km (6.8 miles), starting at Gare de Lyon, with further extensions opening in 2023.
The line, dubbed the “Tramway Olympique,” is also designed to bolster the city’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games and relieve congestion on three nearby Metro lines.
Echoing his boss’s characterization of the car-reduction plan, Deputy Mayor for Transport Christophe Najdovski, said of the line, which would close two of the four lanes of the Quais Hauts to auto traffic, “Cities such as Bordeaux and Lyon are ahead of us in taking back their river banks. Elsewhere in the world, cities such as Tokyo have already got rid of diesel. Paris cannot stand still. It is a matter of public health.”
Port Authority Capital Plan Includes Two Airport Rail Links
If the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey completes all the projects in its new 10-year draft capital plan, by 2026, all three of the main New York-area airports will have rail links to the regional rail and rapid transit network, according to a news item in the International Railway Journal.
AirTrain at JFK Airport (Photo by Kai Brinker)
Also included in the plan is $7.6 billion to finish work on projects already underway, including installation of communications-based train control on PATH, upgrades to the Harrison and Grove Street PATH stations, and a port and rail freight facility at Greenville Yard. The Port Authority board will vote on the plan at its Feb. 16 meeting.
MARTA Seeks Voter Approval for Further Expansion Plans
What the Georgia legislature failed to do last year, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is asking it to do this year: Give voters in suburban Fulton and DeKalb counties the opportunity to vote on sales taxes that would fund several extensions of the Atlanta area’s rapid transit and light-rail network.
The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that MARTA officials are working with elected officials in the two counties on legislation that would put a sales tax hike that would raise $5.5 billion for the expansions before the voters. The legislature last year failed to pass a similar bill but OK’d one that put a $2.5 billion sales tax hike up for voter approval in Atlanta itself. City voters approved the tax increase by a large margin in November.
Projects slated for funding via the tax increase include a light-rail line along the Clifton Corridor, an extension of MARTA’s North Line from Dunwoody to Alpharetta, a new MARTA line in the I-20 corridor east of the city, and a bus rapid transit line in the same corridor.
Meanwhile, MARTA will begin work this year on the city projects to be funded by the tax, which include light rail along the Atlanta BeltLine and from downtown and the BeltLine to southwest Atlanta, plus $10 million in improvements to the Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport MARTA station.
Know of a project that should be included in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.
Next City contributor Sandy Smith is an associate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.