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MARTA OKs timeline for major transit expansion


The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's (MARTA) board yesterday approved the timeline for $2.7 billion in expansion projects that will result in the largest investment in public transit since the agency was founded 40 years ago.

Under the More MARTA Atlanta program, the projects call for 14 miles of bus rapid transit, 22 miles of arterial rapid transit and 29 new miles of light-rail service. Included is nearly $1.3 billion in projects directly connecting to and around the Atlanta BeltLine, MARTA officials said in a press release.

The expansion also marks a major shift in MARTA's approach to project delivery, with a commitment to seeking public-private partnerships designed to generate new revenue sources and allow for the projects to be completed more quickly.

"This program is a game changer,” said MARTA General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Parker. “We will have more and better transit options to get to job centers, colleges and universities, hospitals, parks and neighborhoods across Atlanta. With our focus now on the projects instead of the types of transit, we are ready to begin implementing the plan for enhanced service.”

The timelines call for the launch of two bus rapid transit lines and other improvements to MARTA's bus system by 2025.

Under construction by 2025 will be:
• a 2-mile Streetcar East Extension along the Atlanta BeltLine, connecting the existing Atlanta Streetcar to Ponce de Leon Avenue;
• the Greenbriar Transit Center, a multimodal hub connecting bus service to transit on Campbellton Road; and
• Five Points Station improvements.

Projects that will be in the planning and design phase by 2025 include:
• 5 miles of high-capacity transit service from Oakland City Station to the Greenbriar Transit Center;
• the Clifton Corridor Phase 1, which involves linking light-rail service from the Lindbergh Center Station to Emory University, Emory Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control and other health care facilities;
• the Southwest BeltLine, which entails 3.5 miles of light-rail service from Oakland Cit Station to Westview Drive near Interstate 20, where it would connect to the future Atlanta Streetcar's western extension; and
• the Northeast BeltLine, which involves 3.5 miles of new light-rail service between Ponce City Market and the Lindbergh Center Station/Armour Yard area.

At yesterday's board meeting, Atlanta BeltLine advocates expressed unhappiness with the timeline, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported. They want the full beltline built by 2030.

"It's unacceptable," Matthew Rao of the group BeltLine Rail told the board, according to the newspaper. "I'm glad you're committed to move forward. I urge you to move faster."

MARTA officials said the plan is subject to change, however more funding would be necessary to speed up some projects.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/14/2019