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Study: Atlanta Transit Expansion Would Boost Economy, Jobs

A new report says transit improvements in Atlanta, including three MARTA expansions, would boost the region's economy.
A new report says transit improvements in Atlanta, including three MARTA expansions, would boost the region's economy.
Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Expanding Atlanta’s transit options would inject more than $5 billion into the economy and create thousands of jobs, according to a new report from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Transportation Alliance.

The report focuses on three proposed MARTA expansions: the Clifton corridor, Georgia 400, and along Interstate-20 Eastbound toward the Mall at Stonecrest. It also includes a fourth set of projects, yet to be named.

Dave Williams, the Chamber’s vice president of Infrastructure and Government Affairs, says the plan would create 45,000 jobs, but would benefit hundreds of thousands.

“There are going to be almost 600,000 new jobs that are accessible by transit,” Williams says. “So, some of those are new jobs, but the bulk of those are going to be existing jobs, that now have transit access.”

Some legislators have introduced a bill that would pay for the projects by asking Fulton and DeKalb county residents to approve a half-penny sales tax. Historically, lawmakers haven’t embraced legislation like that. But Seth Millican, director of the Georgia Transportation Alliance, says he’s optimistic.

“Transportation is not an end to itself,” Millican says. “It’s a means to an end, and that end is economic development and job creation.”

If the Legislature says “yes,” county officials would still have to approve the plan before it could go before voters.