MARTA seeks more than $5 billion for future projects

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MARTA’s financial plan for three large projects was derailed last month when state legislators denied the transit system’s request for a half-cent sales tax increase in Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton counties, according to the AJC.

State legislators denied the sales tax increase in favor of a statewide transportation funding initiative, according to MARTA spokesperson Saba Long.

The combined cost of the projects total more than $5 billion, and MARTA plans to fund them through a half-cent sales tax increase and public-private sphere partnerships, according to Long.

“Public-private partnerships could include a community improvement district (CID), a sole company or a grouping of companies along with local and federal partners,” she said.

The Atlanta Streetcar is an example of such as partnership because it is funded by local and federal dollars as well as by the CID Central Atlanta Progress, according to Long

The three projects are an 11-mile rail expansion along GA-400 to Windward Parkway, a heavy rail and bus route expansion along I-20 East to Stonecrest Mall and a light rail expansion to the Emory/Clifton Road corridor, according to Long.

She said the projects are currently undergoing federal and environmental review. She also said such reviews usually take at least a year.

“Each project is of regional significance, will help reduce congestion and provide a meaningful transportation alternative to the automobile,” Long said.

Senior exercise science major Neil Shelat said he opposes any tax increase to fund an extension to Stonecrest Mall because he believes the extension is unnecessary.

“Accessing 285 from I-20 is enough,” Shelat said.

MARTA has not yet finalized plans for its 2016 legislative agenda. Whether or not the transit company will seek their half-penny tax increase during the next session has not been decided, according to Long.

“MARTA is evaluating several items for next year’s legislative agenda,” Long said.