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MARTA approves commuter rail from East Point station to Clayton County

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The transit agency is also gearing up to bring bus rapid transit to the county south of Atlanta

A MARTA train arriving at a crowded platform at Five Points Station.
Imagine these colors on a train running outside the I-285 perimeter.

Clayton County is primed to receive a major transit boost, thanks to MARTA’s board of directors.

Last week, Atlanta’s transit agency gave the green light for a new rail line and bus rapid transit circuit to be created in the county south of the city that’s home to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to Saporta Report.

The bus element would create dedicated lanes for the new service connecting Jonesboro, Riverdale, Morrow, and College Park.

Earning approval from the MARTA board means these transit projects are closer to securing the federal go-ahead necessary to kick off construction, according to the publication.

The railway’s construction could launch in 2023 and wrap up by 2027, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

That is, if there are no major hiccups, as there usually are with transit projects of this magnitude.

The rail line would link Lovejoy, a south Clayton city, to MARTA’s East Point station, likely along the current Norfolk Southern freight railroad.

Both plans are moving forward about four years after Clayton voters elected to adopt a 1-cent sales tax for transit expansion, the AJC reported.

The moves mark the latest examples of metro Atlanta areas outside of the Interstate-285 perimeter showing support for mass transit projects.

In Gwinnett County, for instance, voters will decide in March if the county should join MARTA. Gwinnett has already borrowed more than $35 million in bonds to buy land that could ultimately house its first train station near I-85 and Jimmy Carter Boulevard.

The article and headline were updated on December 10, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. to indicate MARTA had approved a plan for a new commuter rail line, not heavy rail.