Stephen Reynolds is looking forward to a trip to Europe this summer. The last time he was there, he said, one of the things that most impressed him was the trains.
Though he’d never used them before, he easily navigated to his Paris hotel, he said.
Reynolds doesn’t want trains to come all the way out to Milton, where he lives. But at a Wednesday meeting, he said there are some transit improvements he would like to see in Fulton County. Like more east-west connections. Small connector buses in the city. And MARTA trains that come a little more often.
“Over there, the bus routes are short and the trains are full,” he said. “Everything here in Atlanta goes straight downtown.”
Officials are seeking that kind of feedback as they work to create a transit proposal for Fulton County outside the city limits of Atlanta. Residents passed a transportation tax increase last year that will pay for road, bridge and pedestrian improvements over the next five years. Expanding transit is the county's next priority.
Already, consultants have been to College Park, Mountain Park, Union City, Chattahoochee Hills and Roswell, in addition to Milton, to hear what kind of transit residents want — and what they don’t. Meetings in Fairburn, Hapeville, Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, South Fulton and East Point are scheduled through the beginning of August.
At the meeting in Milton, consultants from design consulting firm Kimley-Horn and construction engineering firm HNTB invited residents to make note of where in the world they have had successful transit experiences, and what made them enjoyable. Sticky notes on a map sang the praises of transit systems from Taiwan to Washington, D.C., and complimented their accessibility, their convenience and their speed. MARTA even made the list. It was clean, safe and on time, the sticky notes said.
Eric Bosman, a consultant with Kimley-Horn, suggested transit could be a catalyst for economic development, could help the elderly and disabled navigate their community and could be safer and more efficient than driving.
Denise Millette, who lives in Milton, is visually impaired. She said she came to the meeting in order to have her voice heard at the beginning of the process. She, too, would like better east-west transit connections. Her husband, Greg Millette, said more transit options are needed as people decide to age in place. He’d like to see heavy rail further north.
Leaders understand residents don’t want transit everywhere, so the study is focusing on certain corridors. In North Fulton, they include the I-285 and Ga. 400 interchange, Old Milton Parkway and Holcomb Bridge. Attendees suggested Windward Parkway also should be on the list.
“Citizens have a chance to change and influence the study,” Bosman said. “We want to tailor this effort to places where this makes sense.”
Some of the cities in Fulton County already have held their meetings, but others are coming up. Consultants will seek community input at the following meetings:
Fairburn — July 25 at 6 p.m. at Fairburn City Hall, 56 Malone Street SW
Hapeville — July 25 at 6 p.m. at Hapeville Police Department Facility, 700 Doug Davis Drive
Alpharetta — July 26 at 6 p.m. at Alpharetta City Hall, Multipurpose Room, 2 Park Plaza
Sandy Springs — July 27 at 6 p.m. at Sandy Springs City Hall, 7840 Roswell Rd Bldg 500
South Fulton — August 1 at 6 p.m.at South Fulton County Government Services Center, 5600 Stonewall Tell Road
East Point — August 3 at 6 p.m. at Jefferson Park Recreation Center, 1431 Norman Berry Drive