DeKalb was the fourth and final jurisdiction to approve the extension, which MARTA officials say they need to continue funding operations and capital projects.
The negotiations were lengthy and sometimes contentious, especially as relates to DeKalb. Officials from the county have long voiced concerns about getting the short end of the stick — worries that were amplified when counties like Clayton and Gwinnett (whose voters ultimately shot down joining the system) negotiated agreements that were viewed as much more county-friendly.
In the end, the amendment includes MARTA committing to incorporate DeKalb's new transit master plan into its engineering report.
Other commitments include new transit centers at South DeKalb Mall and in Stonecrest; faster bus service in the Buford Highway and Candler Road corridors; and continued support of transit-oriented developments. The amendment also includes dates for the refurbishment of eight DeKalb County MARTA stations and says about 350 local bus stations will be upgraded by 2024.
DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond praised Parker for the progress that has been since he took over at MARTA less than two years ago.
“Mr. Parker, in his short period of time, has made tremendous investments of his own time and his own credibility and begun to repair the breaches that have occurred in the past,” Thurmond said at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
“I’m convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that we are in a different place.”
Commissioner Larry Johnson, meanwhile, voted to approve the amendment but stressed that MARTA’s new commitments to DeKalb should be treated as “just a down payment.”
Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson cast the lone no vote.
She said she wanted more detailed breakdowns of MARTA’s future — and past — financial commitments in DeKalb and would have liked to see a concrete commitment to extending rail lines in the county.
“I stand with many of my constituents who feel that MARTA has failed DeKalb,” Cochran-Johnson said.