Atlanta Brainstorms Future Transportation, MARTA Projects

A sales tax to fund expanding MARTA could be on the ballot for Atlanta residents in November.
A sales tax to fund expanding MARTA could be on the ballot for Atlanta residents in November.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE
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The city of Atlanta is putting together a list of transportation upgrades and transit expansions that could bring big changes to how people get around.

The projects would be funded by two proposed sales taxes: one, a half-penny tax that would go toward expanding MARTA; the other, another half-penny tax that would go toward projects like road maintenance, sidewalk repair and the BeltLine. The city estimates the MARTA expansion tax could bring in $2.5 billion over the next 40 years. The other tax, which would be in effect for five years, would raise about $300 million, according to city estimates.

At a public meeting Thursday night, Hemrani Vyas said she’d like to be able to drive less.

“They proposed an idea of having a MARTA light rail line that runs from Turner Field up to North Ave., Georgia Tech area, and I would love to be able to use that,” she said.

The list of potential MARTA projects includes light rail lines, heavy rail expansion and expanded bus service.

“I would like to see more transportation options in neighborhoods,” said Collier Heights resident Barbara Hubbard. “As the population of Atlanta ages, we’ll need more options for getting around.”

“I believe in MARTA,” said Chris Harden. And that’s why, he said, he continues to use it, even though it’s a long walk from a station to his job. “I don’t take MARTA to lose weight, but it’s happened,” he said.

Harden said he wants assurances that if the MARTA tax passes, projects that have long been talked about actually get built.

Atlanta is holding two more public meetings June 1 and June 2. The City Council will vote on the project list in late June. With the council’s approval, the two taxes would be on the ballot for Atlanta residents in November.

The other cities in Fulton County and the unincorporated parts of the county are going through a similar process, considering transportation – but not MARTA – projects that could be funded by a three-quarters of a penny sales tax that could be on ballots in Fulton outside of Atlanta.

Miranda Hawkins contributed to this story.