Links for today – transit and Olympics

Nice little write-up from Saporta Report about the state of MARTA train cars:

MARTA’s trains are old. They’re to reach their lifespan in 2021. Each vehicle received a mid-life overhaul at some point between 2005 and 2008, a solicitation shows.
MARTA has two generations of train cars. The first generation, of 96 vehicles, is 36 years old. The second group, of 120 cars, is 31 years old.


When Boston was going to put in a bid for the Olympics, their press did some Atlanta research. Here’s an interesting series from WBUR

Part 1:

The park:

On hot days — and there are plenty of those in “Hotlanta” — Centennial Olympic Park, located downtown, gets really popular.

“I’m very much grateful for the fountain!” laughs Nyshelle Daniel, who brought her three kids to play in the “Fountain of Rings” in the shape of the Olympic logo.

Before 1996, the park was an area of rundown warehouses. It was not part of the original plan. Private money, $75 million of it, turned 21 acres into the centerpiece park for the Olympics and, today, downtown Atlanta.


Business grew after the games. Already home to Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, Atlanta attracted more corporation headquarters. Nearly 20 years after the Olympics, Atlanta ranks ahead of Boston as home to Fortune 500 companies.

Professor Newman says he expected a hangover, a post-Olympics slump.

“I thought, ‘No way we can sustain that,’ ” he says. “To my astonishment, the building frenzy that had started in the six years building up to the games was just a prelude.”

When Atlanta won the bid in 1990, there were 50,000 hotel rooms in the city. By the end of the ’90s, there were 100,000. And tourists kept filling them. The hangover never came.

Part 2:

Aquatic Center:

The aquatics center was harder to turn into a plus.

“It was outdoors, with a roof structure over the top,” says campus recreation director Mike Edwards. “It was the world’s largest carport.”

During the 1996 games, Edwards managed the venue. He said the Olympics gave Georgia Tech $20 million to build the aquatics center. But Olympic swimming is an outdoor event. Collegiate swimming takes place during the winter, indoors. Edwards says as it was, the venue wasn’t going to work long term.

“We didn’t know exactly what it was we were going to do,” Edwards admits. “We knew we were going to expand recreation and athletic facilities. How we were going to do it, we weren’t exactly sure at the time.”

After the Olympics were over, Georgia Tech raised an additional $45 million to expand the aquatics center into a campus recreation center designed to serve the growing on-campus population. Thousands of bleacher seats on one side were removed to close the facility to the elements. Then engineers built another level below the roof, but above the entire swimming and diving facility.

“Six basketball courts, three dance studios, an inline skating rink and an elevated four-lane running track with one of the best views in town,” Edwards says, showing off the venue.

The facility has held field intramural basketball competitions at the same time as NCAA swimming championships. When not in use by Georgia Tech student and athletic programs, local Atlanta sports clubs rent out the pools and diving platforms.

“If you put all of those things together and look at the return on our investment, I believe we got a pretty good return,” Edwards says.

Olympic naming:

Georgia Tech didn’t get everything it wanted. The International Olympic Committee gave the city of Atlanta the right to call its 21 acres downtown Centennial Olympic Park. But the IOC did not give Georgia Tech any naming rights.

“I mean, we were the village,” Clough says. “We hosted two venues. We about killed ourselves to make this thing work. And not to be able to use the word ‘Olympics’ anywhere was a little bit disappointing. We survived it.”

Clough says Georgia Tech came out ahead from the Olympics, with better campus housing and wellness facilities and better relationships with its neighbors. And it used the Olympics to win more global recognition and encourage its students to think more broadly. Still, Clough has cautionary advice for Boston-area universities thinking about the 2024 games.

“The Olympics does not think long term,” he says. “And they walk. You’ve got to think about how you transition this experience for the next hundred years into something that’s valuable. And you have to define it yourself.”

Part 3:

Still, Atlanta largely avoided the fate of unused venues, of so-called “white elephants.” A recent Norwegian and Danish study says no venue built for a major sporting event since has been more effective than Turner Field.

And then they mention the upcoming move to Cobb county

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