MARTA Board of Directors Chairman Robbie Ashe confirmed agency leaders met with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday to discuss the transit expansion. He also said no final decisions have been made about the list of projects.
“We all recognize that we have an impending deadline,” Ashe said.
Still, the presentation reviewed by the AJC shows MARTA’s plans for may be solidifying.
Former City Council President Cathy Woolard, a Beltline supporter, welcomed the news.
"We are heartened that community voices might finally have been heard,” she said. “We believe the money is available for light rail on Campbellton Road and a reasonable contribution to a future Emory line while building rail on all parts of the BeltLine now owned by Atlanta.”
MARTA has been hashing out the specifics of the Atlanta expansion since city voters approved a half-penny transit sales tax in 2016. In May, the agency unveiled a proposed project list that includes 21 miles of light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit lines, new bus routes, renovation of existing transit stations and other improvements.
Public debate about the list has focused on the Clifton Corridor. At $503.6 million, it’s the single largest project on the list. Supporters say the Emory/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention area desperately needs access to MARTA rail service. But some city residents say the project shouldn’t be a top priority because Emory annexed into Atlanta last year – after voters approved the transit tax.
MARTA CEO Jeffrey Parker has called the Clifton Corridor the agency's best shot at crucial federal funding.
On Thursday, Betty Willis, an Emory senior associate vice president, issued a statement noting that more than 40,000 people work in the area, and some two million patents visit Emory University Hospital and the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center each year.
“The Clifton Corridor is the healthiest portion of what Atlanta needs to compete for national (transit) funding as the largest employment center in Atlanta that is not connected to MARTA’s rail system or an interstate,” Willis said. “Current workforce and population centers are critical factors in the federal funding evaluation process.”
MARTA’s Atlanta expansion
Previously: In May, MARTA unveiled plans for 21 miles of light rail, 18 miles of bus rapid transit lines and other improvements.
What's new: The agency has discussed shifting money among various transit projects.
What's next: The MARTA Board of Directors will make a final decision Oct. 4