The federal money is one of the first fruits of the bipartisan infrastructure law Congress approved last year. Mitch Landrieu, the Biden administration’s infrastructure coordinator, visited Atlanta on Thursday to formally announce the grant — one of more than $2.2 billion in federal transportation grants to be unveiled Thursday.
“People need to get from here to there in a nice, safe way and in a way that saves the planet,” Landrieu said during a ceremony at Five Points station to announce the grant.
The federal grant comes from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program. The program is designed to improve the safety, accessibility and sustainability of transportation infrastructure. The U.S. Department of Transportation said 166 projects in all 50 states will receive funding through the program this year.
Elsewhere in Georgia, Athens-Clarke County will receive $25 million for upgraded bus stops, sidewalks, traffic signals and other improvements along North Avenue from downtown Athens to Freeman Drive/Collins Industrial Boulevard.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law includes spending on a range of projects, including roads, transit to airports, broadband internet and electric vehicle charging stations.
The state funding for Five Points is also notable. Until recently, Georgia has spent little on public transportation, except for funding the state’s Xpress bus service. That’s begun to change as companies such as State Farm, NCR and Mercedes-Benz have opened facilities along MARTA lines.
Four years ago, the General Assembly approved $100 million in bonds for bus rapid transit facilities along a 16-mile stretch of Ga. 400 in Fulton County. In 2020, lawmakers approved a new fee for ride-hailing services that has generated millions of dollars for transit projects.
Last year lawmakers approved $6 million from the fee to help renovate MARTA’s Bankhead station after Microsoft announced it planned to open a campus nearby. This year, the Five Points renovation will get $13.8 million in fee money.
At Thursday’s ceremony, U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, an Atlanta Democrat, said the Five Points renovation is an example of “every level of government working together.” In a statement released Thursday, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston called Five Points an economic engine for Atlanta and the region.
“Our state government will continue to partner with MARTA on initiatives like this to spur job creation and expand economic opportunity for all Georgians,” said Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge.
The Five Points renovation is a major priority for MARTA. It’s the hub where all its rail lines meet, serving about 60,000 passengers a day.
In September, MARTA will begin rehabilitating train platforms in the station. Deconstruction of the canopy and other ground-level improvements will begin in 2024.
The project is expected to be completed in 2028. All bus and rail service will continue to operate throughout construction.
MARTA says the renovation will establish a centralized bus hub, make transfers easier and add more green space to Five Points. The agency also expects the renovation to pave the way for hundreds of millions of dollars of transit-oriented development around the station.