New MARTA Five Points Project Approved

Top: Render by MARTA Bottom: Photo by Noah Zeches | The Signal

The MARTA Five Points Station has been approved for a renovation project that started in 2019.

The estimated $260 million project aims to redesign the station according to five transformative principles, circulation, safety, activation, environmental comfort and civic heart.

Since the station is the “hub of the MARTA system” there are many factors to consider to ensure accommodations for everyday customers. Such as ADA access, pedestrian safety and experience and much more.

MARTA and the City of Atlanta’s new design anticipates the “deconstruction of the existing concrete canopy structure, to be replaced with a new canopy that allows ample light and ventilation above.”

The plaza level is designed to be more community-oriented with projects to include community activities, public art, agriculture, and gathering places. The concourse level will feature public art and customer amenities. The new plaza will have new additions such as a grove, a community garden, a playfield and a cafe.

The current project is approved but the construction is still under review as MARTA gathers more feedback from the public.

The station is located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and has been the point of connection for all rail lines for over 25 years according to MARTA.

The project will cost about $206 million, but it receives its funding through the, “More MARTA Atlanta half-penny sales tax, with $13.8 million from the state of Georgia, and a $25 million Federal RAISE Grant.”

Since the project is a recipient of federal dollars, it has to go through an environmental review due to the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA.

One of the main factors to the renovations was the condition of the roof with its consistent leaking after storms and neglected repairs, “Since 2016, when most of the roof warranties expired, Roofing Program has not been able to implement any roof repair/replacement projects.”

The roof replacement is estimated to be $2.2 million.

According to Appendix A of the environmental assessment, “Five Points Station roof is generally in very poor condition and state of disrepair. The project was built in 1979 and the Station was reroofed in 1996, so most of the roof is close to 27 years old.”

The new design also takes into consideration the MARTA buses and works to try to make the routes and connectivity cohesive with the station as well as improve the streetscape.

Some green-friendly ideas in Appendix B are solar-powered street lamps,

The MARTA encouraged public engagement with the design, and the feedback was largely negative with some people stating the project is a waste of money just for it to be based on cosmetics and not address the concerns of density and functionality. Furthermore, the project will not be completed in time for the World Cup.

The redesign looks great on paper, but in all reality, it does not factor in major problems the system faces every day and introduces new ones altogether such as disrupting commute times and opening up space for loitering.