Beltline supporters to MARTA: Too bad about Gwinnett, now how about us?

MARTA's plans for Atlanta include 29 miles of light rail, like this line in Minneapolis.

MARTA's plans for Atlanta include 29 miles of light rail, like this line in Minneapolis.

In the wake of the decisive defeat of the Gwinnett County transit referendum Tuesday, Atlanta Beltline supporters say it's time for MARTA to focus on people who actually want transit.

The group BeltLine Rail Now issued a statement just after midnight expressing disappointment that “our neighbors in Gwinnett County again turned their backs on MARTA.” But the group called the result “a chance to turn our attention back to communities that are already on board.”

Atlanta voters approved a half-cent sales tax to expand MARTA in 2016, and last year the agency spent months deciding how to spend that money. In October the MARTA Board approved plans for 29 miles of light rail, 13 miles of bus rapid transit lines, three arterial rapid transit routes, the renovation of existing rail stations and other improvements.

The final plan includes more than half a billion dollars to build part of the 22-mile Beltline light rail loop. Now Beltline supporters say MARTA should get busy building it and other projects in the heart of the metro region.

“New people are already pouring into Atlanta, and we need a way to get around town that doesn’t leave us wasting valuable time in gridlock,” BeltLine Rail Now co-founder Cathy Woolard said in the statement. “Let’s build transit that will get people moving and show others why they want to be part of it.”

You can learn more about the failed Gwinnett referendum here. Look for more coverage of what comes next for transit across metro Atlanta in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this weekend.

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