Transit hub could stretch from park to Five Points

A downtown passenger transit terminal could stretch nearly all the way from near CNN Center to Five Points MARTA station, if plans under study work out.

The state Department of Transportation has completed a preliminary report considering three designs for a passenger terminal and real estate development proposed for the “Gulch” area of downtown Atlanta. The state won’t make its recommendation on the complex until the end of this year, but one design is looking good, according to the report.

That one would have a pedestrian connection beneath Forsyth Street to the Five Points MARTA station.

The state has not yet committed to funding the project, no matter what design is chosen. A financial feasibility report is expected this summer. Backers hope real estate development around or above the terminal could generate profits to help pay for the terminal.

And even if there is money to build the bus and train terminal, the rail portion is uncertain. Commuter rail advocates have long hoped such a terminal would be a hub for passenger trains, but funding to establish the rail lines has not materialized.

DOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg emphasized the report is preliminary. But she said the complex could have a “huge benefit” to the downtown area and the region, revitalizing the area and providing activities for visitors and tourists.

Though trains are a big question, the development could still provide a single place for public and private buses that spill over downtown streets or use haphazard docking quarters.

The three alternatives under question would basically use the same pieces of land. The leading alternative would connect two buildings on upper floors, stretching the terminal far enough so passengers could get from it to MARTA’s Five Points hub. In addition, it would preserve the historic Atlanta Constitution building on Forsyth and Alabama streets.

The other two options don’t make it as easy to connect to Five Points trains. The favored development would also create a new north-south street.

A.J. Robinson, president of the self-taxing business district downtown, said he looked forward to seeing the report.

“I think it has from what I can tell some good attributes,” Robinson said. “Hopefully one day in the future, we’ll figure something out for rail.” The evaluations so far, he called “a good next step.”

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Staff writer Scott Trubey contributed to this article.For more information, see www.dot.ga.gov/mmpt

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