State Sen. Brandon Beach will file the much-anticipated legislation that would lay the groundwork for significant MARTA expansion, possibly as early as next week, a MARTA spokesman said Wednesday.
Beach, who is President and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, has long been an advocate for transit in the Legislature. He has expressed support for a referendum in Fulton and DeKalb that would let voters decide whether to pay an additional half-percent sales tax to fund MARTA.
“I’m for it,” Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in November. “I’m for the voters being able to decide if they want that half-penny to go towards transit expansion. I think transit is going to become more and more important, especially with economic development.”
A sweeping transportation funding bill that passed last year (HB 170) enabled counties to collect up to a penny per dollar for transportation projects, if voters give the OK in a referendum. However, MARTA wants state lawmakers to tweak the law so the money could go to the transit agency rather than to a county, and to extend the collection period from its current cap of five years to 42 years so that it matches the life of the existing MARTA sales tax collections in Clayton, Fulton and DeKalb.
MARTA could use the estimated $200 million in new sales tax revenue to bankroll about $4 billion of construction. If MARTA obtained federal matching funds, that amount could double to $8 million. Enough, MARTA officials think, to nearly double the existing size of the system.
To read more about MARTA's expansion plan, click here.