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Ga. Legislature To Decide Fate Of New MARTA Funding Bill

Atlantans may vote on a referendum to fund MARTA expansion in November.
Atlantans may vote on a referendum to fund MARTA expansion in November.
Credit Tim Adams / flickr.com/36217981@N02
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Georgia lawmakers will decide this week on the fate of a bid to get more money for expanding MARTA. A bill that would have allowed DeKalb and Fulton County voters to approve a tax for MARTA funding died earlier in the legislative session.

Now, there’s a bill that would allow that vote just in the city of Atlanta.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, who had spoken out against the broader MARTA bill, says he supports the new one.

“It’s going to allow the city of Atlanta, who has a very great interest in moving MARTA expansion forward this year, to be able to do what they’d like,” Bodker said. He said he and other Fulton County officials are working on a list of other transportation projects that voters could choose to fund on the November ballot.

“All we’re trying to do is to have a meaningful conversation about what type of transit is appropriate, figure out what the price tag for that is, and then find the right vehicle to fund it,” Bodker said. “This has never been an anti-transit conversation, it’s been an anti-heavy rail conversation.”

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, though, was fully on board with the MARTA idea.

“If it were up to me, I would extend MARTA to the Tennessee line, because we need to be able to start moving people in different modes,” he said.

Paul and Fulton County chairman John Eaves both say they want to revisit the MARTA conversation in Fulton.

“We’re addressing a need, and I think we have support out there,” Eaves said, in regard both to transit and to putting transportation funding on the November ballot.

If the current bill passes, Atlanta residents could vote in November on a referendum for a half-penny sales tax for MARTA.