As it turns out, Gwinnett County’s long-range plans for transit expansion actually do include some heavy rail.
Officials said Thursday afternoon that the county’s comprehensive transit plan — the near-finished version of which will be revealed in a new round of public meetings that begins Saturday — will include the recommendation that rail service be built to connect a new “multimodal hub” on the western end of Gwinnett to the existing Doraville MARTA station.
During a previous briefing on the transit plan, officials said bus rapid transit — buses that operate in dedicated lanes and with fewer stops that more traditional routes — would be among the primary recommendations for expanding transit options within the county.
That’s still the case. But Thursday’s meeting with Gwinnett Department of Transportation Chairman Alan Chapman and Cristina Pastore of consulting firm Kimley Horn made rail’s potential role more clear.
They said the long-range plan calls for heavy rail to be extended from the Doraville MARTA station, which is just inside I-285 in DeKalb County, to the site of a future hub near Norcross. The exact site of that hub is still undetermined but officials are targeting the area near Jimmy Carter Boulevard and I-85.
"Heavy rail is very expensive and I think we knew all along that we couldn’t provide to a significant part of the county," Gwinnett Department of Transportation Director Alan Chapman said. "But I think it became apparent to us that it is a needed improvement ... to make a large part of the system work."
Tyler Estep is a reporter covering DeKalb County, its government and its people. A Gwinnett County native and University of Georgia graduate, he has been with the AJC since 2015. He previously covered his home county and served stints on the paper's hyperlocal and breaking news teams.