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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

What a half-penny can do for MARTA in Fulton

Elected officials in Fulton County will have new details about how MARTA could expand when they meet Wednesday to hash out the details of up to a one-percent sales tax to fund transportation projects.

MARTA CEO Keith Parker sent a letter to Fulton County on Jan. 5 that spells out how it could expand services with either a quarter-penny or half-penny of additional sales tax money.

To view the letter from MARTA, click here.Response to Chairman Eaves letter dated 12-15-2015

A 1-percent tax would raise up to $1.4 billion over five years in Fulton alone, according to estimates from the Georgia State University Fiscal Research Center.

Fulton County elected officials are debating they would split the money, if the referendum passes in November. Some cities like Roswell and Sandy Springs seem open to cutting MARTA a share of the proceeds, while others like Johns Creek and Alpharetta have indicated they want the spending to be focused on road improvements.

The letter spells out three different options. For the quarter-penny, MARTA could operate bus service in a managed lane along Ga. 400 from North Springs Station to Windward Parkway (similar to the optional toll lane on I-85), plus enhance bus service in other Fulton cities.

Or, it could just build a bus rapid transit line operating in its own dedicated lane along Ga. 400 to Windward Parkway, with no other local bus service improvements.

For a half-penny, MARTA could bring trains to Alpharetta. That is, it could extend its heavy rail line from the current terminus at North Springs along Ga. 400 north to Windward Parkway. MARTA could also provide improved bus service in several Fulton cities. And it could provide "some other high capacity transit expansion within the city of Atlanta to be determined in consultation with the city and its stakeholders," the letter states.

One possibility would be to extend heavy rail west from Hamilton E. Holmes station to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and I-285, according to the letter.


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