Atlanta City Council asks MARTA to postpone Five Points construction

But transit agency affirmed its plans to move forward with the station renovation
The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to ask MARTA to delay its plans to renovate the Five Points station. (Natrice Miller/

The Atlanta City Council voted Monday to ask MARTA to delay its plans to renovate the Five Points station. (Natrice Miller/

The Atlanta City Council on Monday added its voice to a chorus calling for MARTA to delay the renovation of the Five Points station.

MARTA plans to close its downtown Atlanta transit hub to bus and pedestrian access next month in preparation for the renovation. But Mayor Andre Dickens has asked the agency to delay the construction, citing preliminary findings from an audit of MARTA spending. On Monday, the City Council voted unanimously to support Dickens’ call for a delay.

Those calls have not persuaded MARTA to delay the project. On Monday MARTA Board Chair Kathryn Powers affirmed the agency will move forward with the renovation as planned but work with city officials to alleviate their concerns.

“MARTA believes in the Five Points transformation project and looks forward to working through improvements to our construction mitigation plan in the June 28 meeting with the mayor and his leadership team,” Powers said in a statement issued late Monday.

MARTA plans to remove the concrete canopy over the station, build a translucent cover, and add street-level bus bays and green space. The $230 million project is expected to begin this summer and continue through 2028.

MARTA rail passengers would still be able to transfer trains at Five Points throughout construction. But buses will be rerouted to other nearby stations, and pedestrians will also be required to board and exit trains elsewhere.

Street access to Five Points will temporarily reopen during the 2026 World Cup soccer tournament. It’s unclear when street access would be permanently restored, but MARTA has said it will not be closed through 2028.

Political and business leaders have long criticized MARTA’s design for the project. In a recent letter, Dickens cited another concern: Preliminary audit findings show MARTA owes nearly $70 million to its Atlanta expansion fund, which is supported by a 2016 transit sales tax approved by city voters.

Council members requested the audit last year, citing suspicions that MARTA was billing the account for additional local bus service that it was not providing. MARTA has disputed the audit’s finding — the agency estimates it owes about $9 million.

Dickens asked MARTA to postpone construction at Five Points until after the audit is completed late next month. Council members echoed the mayor’s concerns Monday. They also are concerned about the impact that the long-term closure of Five Points could have on thousands of passengers.

“We’ve got to do a better job of ensuring we have a (transit) system that works for everyone,” said Councilman Jason Dozier, who co-sponsored Monday’s resolution.

MARTA told Dickens it plans to move forward with the renovation as planned and will take steps to alleviate the impact on passengers. The agency’s board affirmed that stance last week.

Monday’s nonbinding council resolution apparently did not change the minds of MARTA officials. Powers said that, by the council’s logic, MARTA should also pause other major projects, such as the Summerhill and Campbellton Road bus rapid transit lines.

“As to the City Council’s action today, no report of audit findings, preliminary or otherwise, has been released,” Powers said. “City Council legislation premised on such is misguided. As we said in our letter to the mayor, reconciliation on the amount of money spent on bus service operations is an accounting issue, not a reason to stop moving projects forward.”