BY STEPHANNIE STOKES, WABE
MARTA gave a clearer idea of how it might expand around Atlanta on Thursday, and supporters of two big transit projects are celebrating.
The transit agency’s latest list of expansion projects included nearly a half a billion dollars for light rail around parts of the BeltLine.
That’s $200 million more than MARTA originally proposed, which encouraged Lauren Welsh of the urbanist advocacy group Thread ATL.
“This does not include the full BeltLine loop,” Welsh said. “But this is more than was presented in the initial project list. So in my mind, that’s really a success.”
The new emphasis on the BeltLine does mean less money for another big project: light rail to Emory University, a route known as the Clifton Corridor.
Still, Betty Willis, senior associate vice president for government and community affairs at Emory University, which supported the project, said she wasn’t discouraged.
“There are so many great projects out there, and there’s just so little funding,” Willis said.
She said Emory University and other companies in the area will now work to supplement MARTA’s funding. In a letter to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the transit agency said it will also be seeking private support to complete the full 22-mile BeltLine loop.
MARTA is receiving $2.5 billion from a citywide transit expansion sales tax, which Atlanta voters approved in 2016.
The agency’s board will vote on the expansion plan on Oct. 4. There will be no timeline for completing the projects as part of that vote.