Metro Atlanta elected officials tasked with deciding which new road and transit projects receive funding from next year's one-cent transportation tax singled out several rail and bus proposals they consider to be priorities.
Don't break out the champagne just yet. The list is in flux and could easily change. Leaders have less than two weeks to put the finishing touches on a draft proposal to present to other members of the so-called "regional roundtable." Ken Edelstein at Green Building Chronicle has a rundown of what made the latest list:
The $3 billion worth of are Recommended Transit Projects and their proposed funding levels are:
• $825 million for a rail line from Midtown to the Cumberland area that eventually would be extended to Town Center Mall,
• $700 million for a Clifton Corridor rail line, connecting the Lindbergh MARTA station to Emory University, [ed. The roundtable earlier in the process had only allocated $50 million for the planning of the line, which has strong support from Emory University.]
• $600 million for to go toward rail lines proposed by the Atlanta Beltline,
• $500 million to keep MARTA in a “State of Good Repair,”
• $185 million to replace the state’s share of operating funds for Georgia Regional [Transportation] Authority bus service [for 10 years],
• $100 million to restore Clayton County’s recently shuttered bus service, and
• $100 million to plan and begin implementation of light rail northeast up I-85
Five “Other Projects to Consider” weren’t tagged with budget numbers and face an uphill climb. They are:
• MARTA’s North Line extension to SR 140,
• MARTA rail service east along I-20 to Candler Road,
• transit service from the Gwinnett County line to MARTA’s Doraville station,
• a systemwide environmental analysis of the impact of transit projects,
• a regional mobility call center, and
• commuter rail from Atlanta to Griffin
Let's hop back for a moment. Note that the roundtable recommended that GRTA, which operates a suburban bus service, should receive $185 million in cash from the tax. GRTA's one of Georgia transit's strange birds. Unlike MARTA, the agency actually receives state funding for operations. Now it appears that metro Atlanta taxpayers would have to foot the bill — at least for 10 years. As noted by both Edelstein and CCT Girl, who covered this morning's meeting via Twitter, some members weren't pleased with the news.
Edelstein quotes state Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Smyrna:
“The state started the [GRTA] system. This is a state agency,” State Sen. Doug Stoner, D-Cobb County. ”I do take issue that basically the state saying, ‘Ah, we’re just going to quit service.’”
Another interesting piece of the puzzle: On Monday, a Gold Dome committee tasked with examining metro Atlanta's convoluted transit landscape said in a report that there's no need to create a new regional transit agency to wrangle metro Atlanta's myriad bus and rail lines. The report said an existing state transportation agency could assume those duties. Transit observers have whispered for several weeks that the agency that would do so is most likely GRTA.
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