MARTA BOARD AUTHORIZES CONTRACT FOR BELTLINE
TRANSIT ENGINEERING STUDY; TAKES STEP FORWARD IN BRINGING TRANSIT TO ATLANTA
Comprehensive Review of Alignment and
Environmental Data, Addressing Connectivity Gaps Necessary Next Steps in
Realizing Transit on the BeltLine
ATLANTA – The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid
Transit Authority (MARTA) Board of Directors took a major step toward bringing transit
to the Atlanta BeltLine with the authorization of a contract for a
comprehensive engineering analysis for light rail around the BeltLine that
connects into the current MARTA heavy rail stations.
The six-month study is an important step
forward towards requesting federal funding support. It will assess the existing
Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) alignment data, validate the full program
capability beyond the ABI alignment limits, and provide meaningful transit
connections to the existing MARTA system.
The Streetcar East current extension
alignment runs from Jackson Avenue to the BeltLine at Irwin Street and up to
Ponce City Market. As part of the planning phase for this project, MARTA
reviewed ABI’s environmental study documents and discovered several design gaps
that warranted further investigation. This study will help MARTA and ABI better
understand transit gaps evident in existing alignment, environmental and
connectivity concerns, and document recommendations to be used in future
planning, public outreach, and design of light rail transit on the BeltLine.
“MARTA appreciates that advocates for BeltLine
rail are eager to see dirt turned, but upon analysis of initial environmental
and engineering studies conducted by ABI, we discovered that those segments of
the project that connect to the larger transit system require further
evaluation,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “This is typical for a project of this
size and this study will examine technical issues and risks involved in building
light rail on the BeltLine and give us a better sense of overall project costs.
Right now, we have lines on a map with little to no connectivity. For this
project to progress and ultimately succeed, it must connect to the existing
The draft environmental
study documents released by ABI were primarily trail-based with some rail
considerations which did not address several areas of rail transit concerns.
The planning review of the documents revealed transit connectivity gaps to the
north between Ansley Mall and Lindbergh Center rail station and to the south
between the existing Streetcar and I-20. Additionally, alignment options to
MARTA heavy rail stations and alongside existing private railroad tracks have
not been adequately addressed and require more evaluation.
“The board saw this study as an important
next step in MARTA’s commitment to its customers who support transit expansion
along the BeltLine, and throughout the system,” said MARTA Board Chair Rita
Scott. “When people hear of another study, they may be tempted to criticize
this as overanalysis, but this level of due diligence is paramount to providing
safe, efficient, and connected transit, which is the goal of everyone involved
in this massive project.”
“Transit is a
vital component of the BeltLine vision to ensure greater connectivity and
accessibility around the corridor,” shared Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. CEO Clyde
Higgs. “ABI looks forward to supporting MARTA’s work to bring transit to the
The study will be conducted by VHB/Vanasse
Hangen Brustlin, Inc. at a cost of $500,000 and take six months to complete.
Upon completion of the study, MARTA and ABI will review the findings and
determine next steps.