Date of Award

5-26-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

Dr. Charles Jaret - Chair

Second Advisor

Charles Gallagher

Third Advisor

Wendy Simonds

Abstract

The transportation crisis in Atlanta has attained epic proportions. Inconveniences and hardships created by too many automobiles and not enough alternatives for movement, have reached untenable levels. Getting at what lies beneath the asphalt, interrogating what drives the paving of America, along with the seemingly unstoppable space, energy, and money consumption that the current mode of mobility entails will perhaps allow for future decision-making that includes a more nuanced reading of the landscape. In an effort to understand these forces, I interrogate the creation, trajectories, and current positioning of three major Atlanta transportation projects: the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), the bus and rail system that has been the backbone of metropolitan Atlanta’s public transportation system for the past 30 years; the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), which is the super-agency created in 1999 in an effort to address the air quality issues in the region; and the Beltline, an enormously popular current proposal to build a 22-mile loop of greenspace, transit, and other amenities around an inner loop of the city built on existing rail beds. This investigation engages a wide literature on race, space, and place; attendance at various meetings and relevant symposia; archival data; and in-depth interviews with 20 area transportation experts and interested parties. As race and regionalism are so central to understanding power and procedure in metro Atlanta, particular attention is given to racial and spatial practices. This research reveals the contest over issue framing between car-centered growth promoters, environmental (or green) actors, and social justice, or equity proponents and how the outcomes of this triumvirate’s competition results in regional transportation policies and procedures. The examination of the three instances; MARTA, GRTA, and the Beltline, give us an excellent window into the making of mobility in the region. INDEX WORDS: Transportation, Atlanta, Race and Regionalism, Mobility, GRTA, Beltline, MARTA.

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