Board picks transit projects for possible state funding

A regional board has recommended nine transit projects for possible state funding next year.

The list includes several bus rapid transit lines, the rehabilitation of MARTA stations and tracks, the construction of new park-and-ride lots and other projects sprinkled across metro Atlanta.

At a time of tight budgets, there’s no guarantee the state funding will come. But the project list could set the stage for perennial state support at a time when metro Atlanta is poised for a transit construction boom.

The list was approved by the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, which oversees transit planning and funding in a 13-county region. The General Assembly created the board two years ago as part of legislation that also allows local governments to raise sales taxes to pay for transit expansion. Gwinnett County voters will consider a transit sales tax in November, while Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties are considering their own transit expansion plans.

Though local funding will be key to any expansion, transit supporters have long sought state funding for public transportation. The regional authority — known as the ATL Board for short — is charged with recommending projects for possible inclusion in the state’s annual bond package.

The ATL Board unveiled a list of nine projects last month and discussed narrowing it down to three or four. But on Thursday it unanimously agreed to forward the full list of nine projects.

The projects include MARTA’s proposed Capitol Avenue/Summerhill bus rapid transit line in Atlanta — the first such project in the region. It also includes bus rapid transit projects in Clayton County and along the top half of the Perimeter.

The list includes rehabilitation of existing MARTA tracks and stations and two new park-and-ride lots along Ga. 316 in Gwinnett County. And it includes three Cobb County projects: technology to give buses priority at traffic signals; a Cumberland transfer center; and construction of sidewalks, curbs and ramps for the disabled along local bus routes.

The list now goes to Gov. Brian Kemp and the General Assembly. They will decide which of the projects — if any — make the final cut for state funding next year.

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