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Gold Dome Arguments Heat Up Over MARTA Expansion

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Welcome to the Gold Dome! Two transit solutions enter, one transit solution leaves! Atlanta's local representatives have been duking it out over transportation funding, and now it seems they're trying to drop rhetorical bombs on the legislative floor. But many of the verbal explosives that oppose a MARTA expansion appear to be duds.

Recently a couple of pieces ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that questioned the logic of expanding Atlanta's rail system. One was a regular column, Gridlock Guy, and the other an op-ed by State Sen. John Albers of Roswell. The former column covered ground about MARTA that has been treaded over and over again in three questions. Will people use it? Will taxpayers fund it? Is it really needed? Albers, on the other hand, wrote a cute middle school essay. Here's one highlight:

"I represent all six cities in North Fulton County and speak to residents every day. The people overwhelmingly tell me they do not want a heavy rail solution forced upon them, so why are they being sold a bill of goods? This is the case for the proposed and nearly $3 billion expansion of MARTA rail into North Fulton County. A project of this magnitude will likely increase traffic and taxes for North Fulton residents. Cobb County learned through a study commissioned by the Board of Commissioners that their proposed transit system could make traffic worse at key intersections. North Fulton does need innovative solutions to circumvent traffic congestion, but a heavy rail expansion is not the solution. Citizens are smart and understand the reality of the situation."

Anyhow ...

Will people use it? Gridlock Guy says maybe since, in 2013, just 3 percent of Atlantans used the service. But, since that time, the Beltline has grown and city density has increased dramatically. And both will continue to do so along with other bike and streetcar solutions lending to the importance of rail structure.

Will taxpayers fund it? Gridlock Guy says doubtful. Though that's despite a recent poll by the Metro Atlanta Chamber showing 73 percent, an overwhelming majority of likely voters, would support a tax to fund MARTA expansion. In fact, most people wouldn't support a transportation solution that excludes MARTA.

Is it really needed? Gridlock Guy say probably not. Why? Well, because driverless cars and cellphones, duh!

Apparently, if you look into the future 10 to 15 years you'll see a world where cars don't create congestion and everyone will be able to work from home anyway. That's all despite the fact that we currently have cars, and the roads are congested, and we currently have phones yet people still work in offices. Ten to 15 years ago people had phones and cars, but there was still traffic, and people still worked in offices. It seems unlikely that a jump in Internet speed and moving drivers to the back seat will create some unprecedented transformation in work and transportation culture that hasn't already happened.

Until cars can fly or we we start traveling by vacuum-tube, we're still going to need a non-car solution.

· N. Fulton doesn't want expanded MARTA rail [AJC]
· Gridlock Guy: The debate for MARTA expansion continues [AJC]
· Here Now, New Visuals for 4 MARTA Transit Developments [Curbed]
· MARTA Expansion's Unprecedented Support in 11 Charts [Curbed]