MARTA study could wipe out proposed light-rail lines due to higher costs

Written by RT&S Staff
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Residents, leaders still want light rail in a neighborhood MARTA has marked for bus rapid transit.

An engineering study conducted by MARTA has revealed proposed light-rail lines would be more expensive than original estimates.

According to the study, the 3-mile project from Ponce City Market to the MARTA Lindbergh station in northeast Atlanta is projected to cost as much as $448.2 million. Three years ago the price of that segment set by MARTA was $171.6 million. In addition, a 4-mile line of track south of Ponce City Market also will cost more. The engineering study has indicated the price could be as much as $269.9 million, about $160 million more than the original estimate.

MARTA said the increase in cost is the result of a more detailed analysis that includes the price of specific bridges, buildings, and other facilities. However, the estimates do not include costs covering right-of-way, support facilities, and transit vehicles.

MARTA could conduct another study over the next two years, and a final decision could cut out some light-rail segments in favor of less expensive transportation options like bus rapid transit.

The move has already happened on Campbellton Road, where MARTA is now recommending busing over light-rail due to lower costs and quicker construction. A half-cent sales tax for transit was approved back in 2016, which allowed MARTA to move forward with $2.7 billion in expansion money that included a heavy investment in rail. Southwest Atlanta residents are now upset about the move to bus rapid transit along Campbellton Road because they believe they were promised light rail.

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