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MARTA: Please fund $5.5 billion in rail expansions

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Legislation will be introduced to bring vote to Fulton, DeKalb counties

A MARTA train arriving at a crowded platform at Five Points Station.
If Fulton and Dekalb counties vote for funding, MARTA could expand heavy rail service to the north and east.

In 2016, City of Atlanta voters approved a tax increase to fund the expansion of MARTA within the city limits — a historic move that could help reshape Atlanta’s transit future.

Now, state lawmakers, in conjunction with MARTA leaders and elected officials from DeKalb and Fulton counties, are crafting legislation to bring the same scheme to areas outside the city limits.

According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the legislation could provide upwards of $5.5 billion toward rail expansion if approved by voters in November. Combined with taxes raised by the City of Atlanta, the two measures could bring nearly $8 billion in funding to the transit agency.

While a reasonably similar vote fell flat back in 2012, MARTA leader Keith Parker is dedicated to showing that the system is keen on using the money wisely and quickly.

In advance of a November vote, he intends to kick off a range of projects within the city funded by last year’s voter approved tax — to show that MARTA means business.

Look for work to start on upgrades to the MARTA station at the airport, as well as planning to get underway for light rail service to run through southwest Atlanta to connect the Beltline to downtown.

If the large bill is approved this fall, it could spur the construction of a light-rail line to served Emory University and the CDC along Clifton Road, the construction of the long-planned Red Line extension, and an eastward expansion of MARTA’s system through heavy rail and bus rapid transit service along Interstate 20.

With business leaders vowing support, those involved in the legislative push are optimistic that things will go better than with the 2012 vote.