Mar 28, 2024 - News

New rail stations won't replace Beltline expansion, MARTA CEO says

Illustration of a MARTA station sign with the top three stripes extending off to the right into the distance.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Mayor Andre Dickens' plan to build new MARTA rail stations won't replace the Beltline streetcar project, the transit agency's boss said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Dickens' "infill stations" announcement at Monday's State of the City address excited transit advocates but raised questions about whether the polarizing Beltline rail project would get shelved to pay for the new stops.

  • MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood's comments to Atlanta City Council members provides more clarity and helps ease some Beltline rail supporters' concerns — for now.

Zoom in: In addition to the announced Murphy Crossing stop, Greenwood told the council's transportation committee, MARTA is considering previously studied and new station locations, including along the Beltline.

  • The agency will explore how local, state and federal funding and revenues from mixed-use developments on adjacent MARTA land could pay for the stops.

What they're saying: "We're not ruling anything out, but I would say we're not beholden strictly to what has been said in the past," Greenwood said about the potential locations.

  • "There were a lot of decisions made in the past based on the conditions available at that time. It's 2024. Let's take a second look."

Yes, but: Dickens, who did not directly reference the Beltline rail expansion during his Monday address, makes the final decision as to which of the More MARTA transit projects get built.

  • Meanwhile, the well-backed group of residents, developers and restaurateurs opposed to the streetcar expansion are continuing to press the administration on spending the rail line's funding on other transit projects.

The bottom line: "Until there is a clear plan and funding source for the infill stations and shovels in the ground for the streetcar extension to the Beltline it's impossible to not have questions," Matt Garbett of Thread ATL, a mobility advocacy group, told Axios.

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