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MARTA Board approves $2.7 billion plan to expand transit in Atlanta

The expansion plan is the largest investment in transportation across Atlanta in over 40 years, officials said

ATLANTA – A $2.7 billion plan to expand transit service across Atlanta was unanimously approved Thursday by MARTA’s Board of Directors and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Key components of the plan include accelerated light rail on Cambellton Road, a $350 million investment in the Clifton Corridor and a $200 million investment in the Atlanta BeltLine and streetcar network.

The transit investment is the result of a two-year study on technical data, performance and community surveys. Improvements to MARTA stations with more amenities and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enhancement were big priorities, along with a more frequent bus service and new, circular routes.

Benefits to the expansion could increase transit access by 61 percent for low-income communities, connect to over 100 schools and 83 grocery stores and bring service to 126 neighborhoods across Atlanta, according to city planners. It could also increase access to more than 350,000 jobs across the region.

The plan includes 22 miles of light rail transit, 14 miles of bus rapid transit and 26 miles of arterial rapid transit.

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The MARTA expansion will be partially funded by a half-penny sales tax approved by city voters in 2016. Transit officials said they will also seek out public and private funding to help bring the plan to fruition.

“Think of it as a major and transformational down payment on our future commitment to the city and to the region,” said Jeffery Parker, MARTA’s general manager and CEO, in a statement. “This is an important milestone, but it’s not the finish line.”

Some controversy surrounds the plan to build the Clifton Corridor line, which would connect Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the larger transit system. Emory University was recently annexed into Atlanta and was not part of the overall plan when voters approved the sales tax in 2016.

“As Atlanta’s population grows, so must our investment in equitable and accessible transportation options," said Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms." With development plans spanning from Greenbriar in Southwest Atlanta to Emory University, today's MARTA vote helps move us closer towards becoming One Atlanta."

Now, MARTA officials will focus on developing costs and schedules for individual projects and secure additional funding. Some projects, like expanded bus service, have already started.

Next steps include developing costs and schedules associated with individual projects and beginning the process of securing additional funding. MARTA will also work to educate riders on various programs in the months ahead.

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