A rendering of The Stitch. (Central Atlanta Progress)

Atlanta City Councilmember Amir Farokhi introduced legislation Sept. 6 that would seek federal funding for preliminary engineering for The Stitch, the long talked about vision to cap the Downtown Connector.

The legislation, backed by the entire council, would authorize Mayor Andre Dickens to apply for a fiscal year 2022 U.S. Department of Transportation Reconnecting Communities Pilot discretionary grant in the amount not to exceed $10.5 million using Eastside Tax Allocation District funds or other applicable funding. It now goes to the Transportation Committee for discussion.

Farokhi explained in his September newsletter that The Stitch is a proposed cap over a section of Interstate 75/85 in Atlanta’s central business district between the Civic Center MARTA rail station and Piedmont Avenue. The nearly 1-mile platform would create a 14-acre park “at the heart of Atlanta” to help reconnect a divided portion of Downtown, he said.

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A 2019 video describing plans for The Stitch. (Atlanta Downtown)

“Indeed, it would begin to repair the harm done through the displacement of largely Black neighborhoods when the highways were originally built,” Farokhi said. “It will also create needed greenspace and spur development, including housing. It is estimated that the project will lead to 13.6 million square feet of new development, 6.1 million of which would be residential.”

“This is a transformative effort that I fully back,” Farokhi said in the newsletter. “Hopefully, the city, working with GDOT, MARTA, and federal partners, can continue the progress towards its completion.”

The Reconnecting Communities Pilot is the first-ever federal program dedicated to reconnecting communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by transportation infrastructure, such as Sweet Auburn in Downtown Atlanta.

Funding supports planning grants and capital construction grants, as well as technical assistance, to restore community connectivity through the removal, retrofit, mitigation, or replacement of eligible transportation infrastructure facilities, according to the DOT.

Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Development District have been pushing for The Stitch to become a reality for years. Last year, The Stitch received a $900,000 Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District put out a Request for Qualifications earlier this year for firms or organizations to provide consulting services for planning and engineering design services for The Stitch from Baker Street/Piedmont Avenue bridge to the Ted Turner Drive bridge. The RFQs are due by Sept. 13, according to information on ADID’s website.

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Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.