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Reader Devises Plan to Make MARTA Ridership Skyrocket

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It's a good sign for MARTA that Atlantans are expending their creative energies to whip up plans and graphics that — however logistically and financially impossible — could make the transit system more popular and useful. The latest big idea comes from a longtime transit proponent named Forrest A. Watson III, who calls for utilizing existing rail lines to bring MARTA where its potential user base already is. This new line, as Watson envisions it, would snake from downtown, through the Westside and on toward Buckhead, possibly linking to another large-scale proposal, the Clifton Corridor line. It brings to mind another ambitious idea — The Green Line — dreamed up by a local transit enthusiast during bouts of Snowpocalypse cabin fever last year. That U-shaped heavy rail extension would boomerang passengers from Bankhead to the Arts Center station in Midtown. Both proposals provide food for thought, if not entirely feasible game plans. Watson's proposal is laid out in the following Letter to the Editor.

Dear Curbed Atlanta:

I have long been a proponent of mass transit and was very excited about MARTA's expansion into Clayton County. While I generally think that any rail expansion of MARTA is good, I think there are ways to expand the rail network that would optimize ridership and contribute to making it "cool" to ride MARTA. The best way to do this is to go where the millennials are. I came up with one plan to accomplish this.

My plan involves using a Norfolk Southern rail right-of-way to build an extension of MARTA along the west side of the Georgia Tech campus. My proposed rail would run from the Five Points station past Centennial Olympic Park, up to North Avenue, and then along Northside Drive, tying back into the Northfolk Southern to get its final destination at the Armour Rail Yard. At Armour Yard it could potentially connect to the rail that has been proposed for the Clifton Corridor that would run east to Emory.

You can see on the map that I've laid out (above) the route I've suggested. I've also drawn the most logical locations for building stations. On the Northside Drive route you could have stations at Centennial Olympic Park at Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., North Avenue, 10th Street, 17th Street beside the Atlantic Station Ikea, Peachtree Road at the Amtrak station and then up to Armour.

I think that the cost of this would be substantially less than some of the other rail line proposals because the total length is less than five miles, and because I'm suggesting the use of existing right-of-ways. Also, I think a line like this would be better received by the young people at Georgia Tech and those living out on the Westside near Marietta Street than another rail to the suburbs. I think a plan like this could completely revamp MARTA's reputation.

Forrest A. Watson III

· MARTA's On the Right Track, but Can It Ever be Sexy? [Curbed Atlanta]
· Introducing: The (Hypothetical) MARTA Greenline Loop! [Curbed]