MARTA Approves $2.7 Billion Expansion Plan

The approved expansion includes $200 million more for light-rail along the BeltLine.

Stephannie Stokes / WABE

MARTA’s board of directors unanimously approved $2.7 billion-worth of Atlanta transit expansion Thursday. The money comes from a half-penny sales tax increase that Atlantans approved back in 2016.

After two years of study, the 17-project plan includes 22 miles of light-rail, 14 miles of bus rapid transit, new transit centers and upgrades to existing rail stations. It also included a last-minute addition of $200 more million for light-rail along the BeltLine.

“Let’s be clear. The fight to get to today was significant,” said Robbie Ashe, chair of the MARTA board. “But when we actually start tearing up streets and turning dirt, I don’t think that’s going to be champagne and roses either.”

Cheers and boos met the MARTA board members after they unanimously approved the expansion plans. The plan has not been without controversy. Some people are still upset that certain projects didn’t make the final cut, like a rail line to the Westside.

Ashe said that shows how much the city has changed.

“Over the decades there have been fights to keep transit out of pieces of the region. We’re no longer having that fight,” he said. “Now the fight is, why isn’t transit in my community and why isn’t it there soon enough?”

Now, MARTA just has to figure out which ones to work on first. Jeffrey Parker, MARTA general manager and CEO, said he expects to present that priority list to the board in about two months. After that, then they will conduct the studies to determine just when each project will be completed.

Editor’s Note: The vote took place Thursday, this report has been updated to reflect that.

(Courtesy of MARTA)