New MARTA stations spur excitement, and questions

The mayor’s announcement comes with confusion over funding for new stations
Mayor Andre Dickens, the 61st mayor of Atlanta, waves to the guest as he enters for the 2024 State of the City Business Address on Monday, March 25, 2024, at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Credit: Miguel Martinez/AJC

Mayor Andre Dickens, the 61st mayor of Atlanta, waves to the guest as he enters for the 2024 State of the City Business Address on Monday, March 25, 2024, at the Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta. Miguel Martinez /

Most Atlanta drivers who make their way through Krog Street Tunnel across DeKalb Avenue on the eastside of the city know the unspoken rule: no left turns.

Drivers emerging out of the iconic underpass and turning onto DeKalb cause a brutal traffic jam — especially during rush hours — with no designated turn light and sidewalks bustling with pedestrians and cyclists.

The area of the city by Krog Street Market has boomed in recent years, which has been positive for development and foot-traffic but a headache for congestion.

But now, the area is slated to be home to a new rail hub after Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens announced his intention to build four new MARTA infill stations.

Where exactly it might fit into the canopy of retail and residential buildings is a good question, said George Banks, who was one of the original Krog Street Market developers more than a decade ago.

“I think the Krog station is interesting because it’s the one place where the real estate needs it the least,” Banks said. “But since the traffic is there, maybe it’s the station that gets used the most.

“There’s this chicken- and-egg dilemma about transit: you don’t build it and nobody comes. But if people are already coming, do they need it?”

It’s only one of many questions about the first-term mayor’s massive announcement that he intends to expand MARTA with four new connection points around the city — with new infill stations to be built at Murphy Crossing, Krog Street/Hulsey Yard, Joseph E. Boone and Armour Yards.

A stop at Murphy Crossing along the Beltline’s Westside Trail would mark the first time the popular mixed-use trail loop would connect to heavy rail, marking a path forward for how the city might integrate the transit and trail systems.

Dickens said during his State of the City address that more stations will equal more riders, because “we don’t have enough stations located where residents need them most.”

The mayor signed an administrative order Thursday, officially naming the locations and directing city officials to identify potential funding sources — including local, state and private revenue options.

It’s unclear if the lofty undertaking could qualify for federal dollars and although a social media post shows MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood meeting with U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock earlier this week, his office declined to comment on whether or not the pair discussed the mayor’s announcement.

Transportation advocates echoed confusion of how the stations will be funded as even already-slated projects have been met with challenges and changes. City officials have also launched an expensive audit of the More MARTA program to see how money has been spent so far.

A More MARTA project review from 2018 gave cost estimates for the infill stations: the Murphy Crossing and Krog Street/Hulsey Yard stations would cost $103.5 million each, with Armour Yards estimated at $102.2 million, and Joseph E. Boone at $42.7 million.

Even a more recent report issued in 2021 by Beltline Rail Now, a pro-Beltline rail community group, estimates a $1 billion price tag for building the four new stations.

“Yes, the infill stations would be fantastic, rail on the Beltline would be fantastic, better bus service would be fantastic,” said Matt Garbett, co-founder of the nonprofit organization ThreadATL. “It’s not a question of are these things good? It’s a question of how do we prioritize? Because we don’t have the money.”

Early reports give insight into project details

When the formal agreement for the use of More MARTA funds between the city of Atlanta and MARTA was approved in 2020, officials added a process for modifying the project list, including project priorities, timelines and significant budget increases or decreases.

All four of the newly announced infill stations were included in the original list of project ideas.

The 2018 More MARTA project review also gives insight into the considerations for new station locations, like projected ridership.

The report said more than 11,000 Atlanta workers lived within one mile of the Murphy Crossing, Krog Street/Hulsey Yard, Armour Yards and Joseph E. Boones station locations.

With Atlanta now the 6th largest metro population in the country — surpassing Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia — those numbers have likely grown.

The new station locations are being touted as crucial connection points to major job hubs, neighborhoods that up until now had been left out of the city’s transit system’s path and an easier way to access the Beltline.

“When you look at the specific locations, they are basically four points – north, south, east, and west – that intersect with MARTA,” Atlanta City Council President Doug Shipman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday. “They also are tremendous mixed-use development opportunities for each of those different spots.”

Atlanta mayor Andre Dickens and MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for MARTA’s Summerhill Bus Rapid Transit Line at the corner of Hank Aaron Drive and Georgia Avenue, Thursday, June 15, 2023, in Atlanta. (Jason Getz /

Credit: Jason Getz /

icon to expand image

Credit: Jason Getz /

Tucked in the mayor’s administrative order on Thursday was also a new directive to construct a bus-rapid transit line that connects the popular Ponce City Market and Bowen Homes — once one of Atlanta’s oldest abandoned neighborhoods that’s on track to be revitalized through $40 million in federal funds.

The mayor’s office said Thursday that the cross-town bus-rapid transit line will extend the already slated North Avenue route and move the particular project up on the to-do list.

Shipman said he sees this as equally as big news.

“We need more east-west connections that are north and south of the main MARTA line — and that is one of them,” he said.

But despite indications over the past few months that the mayor may finally take an official stance on whether to build a light rail along the Beltline, MARTA officials said in March that they are still moving forward with conversations around the proposal.

Greenwood, with MARTA, told Atlanta City Council members after the State of the City address that the new stations won’t replace the eastside streetcar extension — a $230-million project that would lengthen the streetcar from downtown to Ponce City Market and is funded by More MARTA money.

“They’re both in right now,” he said at the time. “We’re progressing both projects, as just mentioned, we’ve got a lot of work underway with streetcar east.”

Dickens’ administrative order Thursday included one line about transit along the trail loop, directing city officials to work with the Beltline and engage MARTA to develop a transit plan “on the entirety of the Beltline.”