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Cobb County could get another two years to decide if it wants MARTA

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Officials need more time to decide which parts of the county are willing to pay a new transit tax

A MARTA train arriving at a crowded platform at Five Points Station.
Linking MARTA to the suburbs is one way transit advocates hope to curb traffic congestion.

Cobb County voters could get another two years to mull over the prospect of welcoming MARTA to the area.

Last week, at the tail end of Georgia’s latest General Assembly, state lawmakers passed a bill that would give the county until 2021 to map out the boundaries of a special transit district in which voters could elect to join MARTA.

About a year ago, the state Legislature passed House Bill 930, which created a 13-county regional transit agency called The ATL.

With then-Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature, the agency allowed participating counties—Cherokee, Clayton, Coweta, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale—to raise taxes to help fund mass transit expansion.

The law also granted Cobb County the right to create a special transit district, in which the majority of residents would want MARTA. That means some less transit-friendly parts of the county would be able to forgo any new transit tax.

The window for creating the boundaries was initially supposed to close this year, but the recently passed House of Representatives bill could allow county leaders to wait until after the 2020 SPLOST referendum to hold a transit vote, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The extension outlined in the bill will still have to be green-lit by the Senate next year.

This news comes on the heels of Gwinnett voters rejecting MARTA transit services in that county, the second most populous in Georgia.

The failed March 19 vote marked the third time Gwinnett County has turned up its nose at MARTA since the transit agency was created in the early 1970s.