At a Monday workshop, when MARTA Senior Project Manager Janide Sidifall was briefing the mayor and council on the status of MARTA’s planning process to bring some form of public transit above the river, she mentioned two other, similar projects MARTA has in the works for the metro area.
Mayor Jere Wood asked if a resolution of support would help to keep the project on the MARTA board’s front burner and got an affirmative answer.
The bottom line in keeping the expansion project moving is going to be funding, he acknowledged.
“This is not going to be directed by what I want or council wants, but what citizens are willing to pay for,” Wood said.
After the workshop’s conclusion, Wood was discussing with Transportation Director Steve Acenbrak and Councilwoman Betty Price what form a resolution of support might take.
Such a resolution would have to be debated and voted on in a formal council meeting. While none of the council members present at the workshop expressed any significant objections to the expansion concept, council members Jerry Orlans, Becky Wynn and Kent Igleheart were absent.
MARTA staff has analyzed the pros and cons of light rail transit, bus rapid transit and heavy rail transit for an 11.9-mile corridor along Ga. 400 from a North Springs station to Windward Parkway, and heavy rail was the best performing alternative in terms of ridership, Sidifall said.
For cost-effective transit service, in terms of construction and annual operating costs, bus rapid transit was the winner. A phased expansion project might include buses in a managed lane on Ga. 400 in the early stages.
Projected locations for MARTA stations would include Holcomb Bridge Road, Mansell Road, North Point Parkway, Old Milton Parkway and Windward Parkway.
“I think there was a time when people did not want a station at Holcomb Bridge Road, but now they do,” Price commented during the workshop, adding that she was hearing “loud and clear” that people want some form of transit extended to Roswell.
Estimated cost of construction of a heavy rail system for the corridor would be around $1.7 billion, and federal funding would pay for just half, Sidifall said.
She said other funding options include MARTA buying land adjacent to the proposed transit corridor and developing it to realize profits; private investment; local governments forming special tax districts for the corridor; funneling some of the state’s allotment of federal funds to the project; and a special local option sales tax of half a cent to a full penny.
“I’m really interested in finding out not only if people would use it, but how much they would want it if they have to pay a one cent sales tax to do it,” Councilman Rich Dippolito said. “I think we all know what that answer would be.”