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Could $8 Billion Vision for MARTA become Reality?

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For longtime Atlantans, the thought that MARTA may one day be supported by politicians — financially and otherwise — has been little more than far-fetched fantasy. But there's a conversation afoot under the Gold Dome that could change the metro area's transit landscape, and the AJC indicates it's not entirely unfeasible. The proposed projects themselves aren't new, but there's a glimmer of reality that funding could offer a new hope that the region may not be totally screwed when it comes to transit in the long run. After the dollop of transit funding allotted during the last General Assembly and MARTA's headway into Clayton County, we're beginning to think a new city motto is in order: "Welcome To Atlanta. Where We're Not Totally Screwed."

Among the projects included in the $8 billion of proposed transit work: the rail link along the Ga. Highway 400 corridor between Atlanta and Alpharetta, a rail link along the Clifton Road Corridor, a rail line paralleling Interstate 20 east of the city and, of course, transit along the Beltline.

While the projects may not be new, the ability to get funding and bipartisan support is. Much of the goodwill has been precipitated by internal reforms at MARTA under the (relatively) new (and now award-winning) CEO Keith Parker. Parker has helmed MARTA as it's operated in the black for a third year in a row — unprecedented for the transit agency.

Anyhow, about the cash ...

Some of the revenue comes from the lease of land around stations to developers, generating revenue in the short term and bolstering ridership in the long term. Additionally, MARTA is proposing a referendum to county leaders where the system operates in order to raise an additional $150 to $200 million annually. Combined with $4 billion in construction bonds and federal funding grants, MARTA could actually get all of the projects going in the next decade, officials believe.

We've heard it before, but this time somehow feels a bit different.

Poll results

· MARTA to make an $8 billion pitch to change the face of Atlanta [AJC]
· 40 Years Later, MARTA Could Reach Beyond Urban Core [Curbed Atlanta]
· Stats Suggest that MARTA is Crushing it Right Now [Curbed Atlanta]
· Plans for MARTA Rail to Alpharetta are Taking Shape [Curbed Atlanta]