Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Can MARTA be a good neighbor?

Contributed by AJC Audience Specialist Mandi Albright

If MARTA ultimately succeeds in bringing heavy rail to Clayton County, as is the transit agency's aim, residents along the lines proposed on early maps face substantial changes, and not just to the landscape. Being one of those residents, I’ve considered what a buildout of MARTA rail near me would likely bring. It’s a glass-half-full vs. glass-half-empty scenario.

There are the obvious benefits, like easier access to rail. No more driving to the College Park, East Point or Lakewood stations, all of which are in the 5-10-mile range of northern Clayton cities like Morrow or Forest Park. Those cities would be right on the proposed rail line.

Then again, regular MARTA rail riders like me know that the transit stations are often big, bulky cement and stone… well, they’re giant eyesores, frankly. Blasting underground tunnels just isn’t going to happen, so we could expect to see raised rail lines in some places. The trains are not exactly quiet as they squeal into stations and rumble along their tracks.

When I told a neighbor that a Morrow/Southlake Mall MARTA high-capacity transit station had been proposed for a now-dead shopping plaza within walking distance of our homes, she flatly stated that if MARTA moved in, her family was moving out. What's sitting there now are defunct stores and a few little restaurants and shops (nothing quaint). But to this neighbor, the resulting influx of riders, traffic, noise and the flat-out ugliness of the station weren’t worth the convenience of the commute.

I’m not planning on moving, but as a potential neighbor of MARTA, I hope the Authority will take a thoughtful approach to future station designs and how it routes rail through communities.

Ride With Respect, MARTA tells patrons, and it’s a good message. But as riders and residents who would be permanently impacted by MARTA expansion, we deserve respect, too.

>> TELL US: Do you live near a MARTA rail station? What has your experience been like?

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