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MARTA earns $12.6 million federal grant to expand bus route

The new system will connect the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta to MARTA's heavy rail system and the Atlanta Streetcar network.

WASHINGTON — Atlanta's rapid transit authority appears to have gotten the green light to expand, Wednesday, after earning a federal grant.

On Wednesday, Sen. Johnny Isakson's office confirmed MARTA won a $12.6 million grant from the U.S. Department ot Transportation to help fund the transit authority's plan for a 9-mile bus route that will connect Downtown Atlanta's Summerhill neighborhood to Midtown.

The new system will connect a mixed-use development in the south Atlanta neighborhood – anchored by Georgia State University – to MARTA’s rail system, the Atlanta Streetcar line and end at MARTA's Arts Center station.

The project, which city officials say is part of a $1 billion investment in South Atlanta, includes the purchase of five new buses that will operate in "a mix of exclusive and shared roadways" and the installation of around 30 transit station locations.

It will also be the state's first-ever bus rapid transit system. BRT is a high-capacity transit system that uses existing roadways and dedicated lanes to carry passengers throughout a city or region via bus. BRT lines are connected to local traffic grids so they trip lights, stop less frequently than traditional buses and have pre-pay ticketing systems.

"The dividends paid by investing in South Atlanta will boost our economy and lift up communities long-waiting for opportunity," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

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Isakson, along with fellow Georgia Sen. David Perdue both applauded the grant.

“When the I-85 bridge collapsed, MARTA proved to be critical to moving Georgians around Atlanta,” Perdue said. “It’s great to see the federal government not only recognizes the value of MARTA, but also is willing to invest further in this infrastructure asset."

The grant will be funded through the National Infrastructure Investments Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants program.

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