The Emory Clifton Corridor is a regionally significant project, and needs regional funding partners to participate. To date, those funding partners have not emerged. It is not reasonable that the burden of paying for this project has fallen on the residents of Atlanta when the project does not serve the low-income communities of the city.
The original vision of the Beltline promised more than just 22 miles of light rail. The Beltline provides a broad, inclusive vision for Atlanta’s future, one that has a robust and reliable transit core that connects to MARTA’s existing heavy-rail system and allows access to the best parts of our city. Beyond transit, people who supported the Beltline’s original vision did so because of its commitment to deliver 5,600 affordable units and to uplift and connect communities that have long been left behind.
That vision is slipping further away the longer we wait to put light rail on the Beltline corridor. Without light rail, development on the Beltline will continue as it has been, with most new construction taking place on the east side of town, exacerbating affordability issues, and making the project the poster child for displacement in the city.
Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI) is the organization that oversees all aspects of planning, developing, and execution of the Atlanta Beltline project. Their almost entirely new executive leadership team has stated their commitment to delivering on the full vision of the Beltline, which includes both transit and affordable housing. That will make our city indeed an equitable, world-class city. But without transit funding there can be no rail on the Beltline, and that funding is provided by MARTA.
It isn’t too late to turn things around. Citizens can contact the Atlanta Regional Commission and ask for Beltline rail to be prioritized. The public comment period ends Friday, December 13th at midnight.
City of Atlanta and MARTA leadership should work to move up the timeline for delivering rail on the Beltline in the RTP. My daughter and all the other children in Atlanta deserve to grow up in the best city possible.
Brionte McCorkle is director of the Georgia Conservation Voters. She is also co-chair of the Atlanta Beltline Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee and is on the board of Citizens for Progressive Transit.