breaking news

Authorities at the scene of a possible sixth bombing in Texas

Transit bill could mean Gwinnett MARTA vote this fall

Gwinnett County residents could vote on joining MARTA this fall under a provision of a transit bill that passed a key legislative hurdle late Thursday.

House Bill 930 passed the House Transportation Committee by a unanimous vote. Among numerous amendments the committee approved is one that would allow Georgia’s second-largest county to join a MARTA system it has resisted joining for decades.

County voters have twice rejected proposals to join MARTA, most recently in 1990. As recently as last fall, elected officials there said a MARTA vote would be an “uphill battle.”

But explosive growth and hundreds of thousands of new residents in recent decades have meant changing attitudes about mass transit. In November an Atlanta Regional Commission survey found 56 percent of Gwinnett residents were willing to pay higher taxes to expand mass transit.

Gwinnett Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said county officials have not decided to call a vote to join MARTA this year.

“The language that is in the bill provides an option that Gwinnett may or may not utilize,” Nash told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “If the language survives (the legislative process), it will be up to the entire Board of Commissioners to decide how and when to proceed.”

Gwinnett is finishing work on a mass transit plan and has been building toward a November referendum on a specific list of projects that has yet to be unveiled. But the county needs approval from the General Assembly to collect a transit tax for 30 years or more to help pay for a package of projects that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Under HB 930, the county’s only option for a transit vote this year would be to join MARTA. The other alternative: Gwinnett could wait more than a year to hold a transit referendum that does not involve joining MARTA.

The bill would allow any county in the 13-county metro Atlanta area to hold a referendum on a transit sales tax of up to 1 percent. But the list of projects for voters to consider must be approved by a new regional transit board the legislation would create. And that board would not be formed until next January.

That means if Gwinnett wants a transit vote this year, joining MARTA is the only option. A provision in the bill would allow Gwinnett to hold that vote.

The bill does not force Gwinnett County to join MARTA. Before such a vote could happen, the County Commission and MARTA would have to reach an agreement on a project list, the size of the sales tax and other particulars. Clayton County took a similar route to joining MARTA in 2014.

Gwinnett operates its own bus system, and county officials have signaled an interest in bus rapid transit lines - not necessarily MARTA rail service.


The AJC's David Wickert keeps you updated on the latest in what’s happening with transportation in metro Atlanta and Georgia. You'll find more on, including these stories:


Never miss a minute of what's happening in Atlanta transportation news. Subscribe to

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Fake Facebook page sends Georgia city in to tizzy over snakes
Fake Facebook page sends Georgia city in to tizzy over snakes

When most of northwest Georgia was preparing for severe storms, one city had to contend with the idea that snakes are lurking in sewers — or so they thought.  Calhoun mayor Jimmy Palmer said ­the “City of Calhoun, Gordon County GA” Facebook page — where a post about a snakes originated — is fake.  &ldquo...
Cobb & Douglas Public Health names new health director
Cobb & Douglas Public Health names new health director

Dr. Janet Pak Memark has been appointed as the new District Health Director of Cobb & Douglas Public Health, beginning April 2. She will replace Dr. Jack Kennedy who will retire in May. Along with the Georgia Department of Public Health, since 1920 CDPH has been dedicated to improving quality of life by tracking and preventing the spread of disease...
Father killed while helping friends change tire at south Fulton gas station
Father killed while helping friends change tire at south Fulton gas station

A 26-year-old father was killed after he got into an argument with regulars at a gas station in south Fulton County, Channel 2 Action News reported.  About 3 a.m. Tuesday, Elliot Jacoby Johnson was called to the Valero gas station on Fulton Industrial Boulevard near I-20 to help friends change a tire, Fulton County police told Channel 2. ...
Airport worker found dead in river was wearing different clothes
Airport worker found dead in river was wearing different clothes

An autistic Forest Park woman who went missing after leaving her job was wearing clothes different than those she was last seen in when her body was pulled from the Yellow River on March 4. Shanequa Sullivan, 23, was found in the river by a fisherman in Newton County. She worked for ABM Janitorial Services, a contractor at Hartsfield-Jackson International...
Man goes from witness to suspect in arson at Cobb business
Man goes from witness to suspect in arson at Cobb business

An apparent witness to arson was taken into custody in Cobb County in connection with the blaze at a retail store, Channel 2 Action News reported. The owner of Boulevard Variety & Thrift Store in Mableton said he suffered a “big loss” in the fire, Channel 2 Action News reported. Cobb police and fire personnel and an arson investigator...
More Stories