Is MARTA’s second look at Beltline project a sign the agency might back away?

Written by RT&S Staff
image description
MARTA train rolling through a station.

MARTA says there are gaps in a proposed 22-mile light-rail transit route on the Atlanta Beltline, but some are worried the agency will end up leaving a big hole in transit for the city.

MARTA’s board of directors awarded a $500,000 contract to Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. to study the 22-mile transit loop. The agency also plans on extending the Atlanta Streetcar from Jackson Avenue to the Beltline at Irwin Street and up to Ponce City Market.

MARTA, however, has identified several design gaps in the 22-mile Beltline project that officials believe deserve a second look. Some of the elements in question deal with the Beltline between Ansley Mall and the Lindbergh Center MARTA station, between the existing streetcar and I-20, and connection to the Beltline to other heavy rail stations.

MARTA says the study is needed if the agency wants to receive federal funding for the endeavor.

Beltline light-rail supporters are still worried that MARTA will eventually pull out of the 22-mile project. MARTA plans to build 15 miles of the corridor by the 2040s, a deadline proponents have tried to get pushed up. There is no deadline for the completion of the entire loop. Furthermore, Beltline Rail Now wrote a letter to the MARTA Board downplaying the significance of the discovered gaps.

Back in 2016 Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax for transit expansion, and MARTA said the Beltline project would be included in that package. In its letter to MARTA, Beltline Rail Now asked the agency to “publicly affirm [the] commitment to delivery of light-rail transit on the Beltline.”

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