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Mary Norwood returns to spotlight pitching (huh?) subway from Buckhead to Cobb County

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Former Atlanta city councilwoman says connecting two communities could curb traffic congestion

The Buckhead skyline features glassy blue buildings beneath a blue sky.
Do Buckhead leaders have a prayer of reducing traffic congestion? Norwood thinks so.
Paul Peterson

Lamenting the insufferable state of Buckhead traffic, former Atlanta City Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Mary Norwood stepped back into the public light Wednesday.

And she came bearing an ambitious—some might say radical—idea for a possible traffic solution.

One way to help curb automobile congestion at the junction of Roswell, Piedmont, and Habersham roads—a triangle that includes some of the most clogged intersections in the subdistrict—would be to stretch a subway line between Cobb County and the Lindbergh MARTA Station, Norwood suggested, according to Reporter Newspapers.

Norwood has been laying relatively low since she was defeated (narrowly, again) by Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta’s 2017 mayoral election, save for some time spent with Tuxedo Park neighbors fighting a controversial townhome development in the community.

This week, she told attendees at a Buckhead Community Improvement District meeting the push for a new Cobb-Buckhead commuter transit line could be her “raison d’être” in 2019, according to Reporter Newspapers.

The meeting marked the launch of what will be a 10-month study of traffic in the area, which some leaders have suggested could be remedied by turning the triangle into a roundabout, adding new turn lanes, or updating and synchronizing the traffic light systems.

But Norwood said aiming to make minor upgrades to problematic Buckhead roadways was thinking too small.

A bulk of commuter traffic in the neighborhood stems from Cobb County, immediately northwest of Buckhead, and linking the two via trains in underground tunnels could relieve some of that automobile pressure, Norwood said.

It’s worth noting that Norwood lives on Habersham Road, which gives her both perspective and stake in solving the traffic issues.

Nevertheless, she told Reporter Newspapers, Buckhead has been overlooked and neglected for far too long by traffic infrastructure improvement efforts from programs like the More MARTA sales tax or the Renew Atlanta bond program.

How about a train from Lindbergh to Braves’s games?
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that metro Atlanta has its own regional transit agency, The ATL, building out a commuter rail line between Cobb County—perhaps the Cumberland area, near SunTrust Park, Norwood said—and Buckhead seems much more feasible.

The Buckhead CID wouldn’t have the authority to actually implement potential traffic infrastructure improvements or, of course, build the subway system, since the potentially affected roadways belong to the city or state.

(Most meeting attendees were clearly pulling for improvements to automobile infrastructure, instead of additional bike lanes or other changes to make the area more bike- and pedestrian-friendly, per the publication.)

Still, CID officials and consultants from planning firm Kimley-Horn and Associates intend to present recommendations to the community during a meeting planned for the spring.

Said Norwood of her inter-county rail idea: “Build it. Build it quick … Will it cost a lot of money? Yes. But we have money.”