In the first real step toward bringing a new rail line to Clayton County, MARTA has announced three studies of potential corridors to allow for service as far south as Jonesboro. The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports that MARTA will work with Norfolk Southern in an effort to determine the possibility of acquiring right-of-way along the existing rail lines to minimize the cost of building a system from scratch. The cooperation marks an improvement in relations between the two organizations; previously MARTA had proposed sharing trackage with the railroad — an idea that proved a non-starter for years. While talks with Norfolk Southern are ongoing, two other studies will examine potential costs for the project and update MARTA's commuter rail concept plan.
While various forms of transit — buses, light rail, heavy rail, diesel trains and BRT — are up for consideration, MARTA hopes that a solution can be found to bring heavy rail to Clayton via an agreement with Norfolk Southern. Trains would originate from East Point station and could service Hapeville, Mountain View / Airport — International Terminal, Forest Park / Fort Gillem, Clayton State University, Morrow / Southlake Mall and Jonesboro / Justice Center. However, right-of-way restrictions could limit MARTA to a single track line, meaning north and southbound trains would share a track, with designated pull-offs for passing. (A disaster waiting to happen?)
Until the studies are completed, however, the plans are still up in the air. All three studies will take a year to complete, with a combined cost of around $700,000 to be covered by the new tax.
· MARTA moves forward with Clayton expansion studies [Atlanta Business Chronicle]
· MARTA's Expansion Plans are Materializing Right Now [Curbed Atlanta]