Buckhead could receive some major, long-awaited transit projects—including a new Armour Yard station and the BeltLine and Clifton Corridor train lines—if Atlanta voters approve an additional half-percent MARTA sales tax, according to the transit agency’s wish list. The city and MARTA are holding a local meeting to get public input on the proposed project list and potential road projects as well on Weds., May 25, 6:30 p.m. at Buckhead’s Passion City Church, 515 Garson Drive.
MARTA is already funded partly by a 1 percent sales tax, or SPLOST, in DeKalb and Fulton counties that continues through the year 2057. This year, state legislation allowed city of Atlanta voters to decide on raising that sales tax by up to a half-percent, only within the city and only for MARTA projects largely within city limits. The tax boost, which also could include another half-percent increase for road projects, could appear on the November ballot either this year or in 2017, though officials are pushing for this fall.
That tax boost could raise an additional $2.5 billion, according to MARTA. That could help fund many long-planned projects in coming decades, such as building light rail circling the city on the BeltLine.
As part of the eventual SPLOST ballot question, the city needs to draw up a list of projects. MARTA is working on a project list that it has presented to Atlanta City Council and is vetting in public meetings. The current list, provided by MARTA, includes several big rail and bus projects in Buckhead:
- A new Armour Yard rail station on the Gold and Red Lines. Armour Yard, at Piedmont Road and I-85, currently has a MARTA maintenance facility.
- BeltLine light rail. Buckhead’s segment of the BeltLine would run between Armour Yard and I-75 along Peachtree Creek, the Shepherd Center and Piedmont Hospital.
- Clifton Corridor light rail. This new line would run from Buckhead’s Lindbergh Center Gold/Red Line station to the Blue Line’s Avondale station through the Emory University area.
- Arterial rapid transit bus on Peachtree Street and Peachtree Road. “Arterial rapid transit” means a bus that runs especially frequently and with priority at signals and in lines. The Peachtree route would run through Buckhead between Five Points station in Downtown to the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Gold/Red Line station in Brookhaven. MARTA proposes pedestrian improvements on that corridor as well.
- Bus rapid transit on Northside Drive. “Bus rapid transit” means the bus would travel mostly in a dedicated lane. The Northside route would run between southwest Atlanta and I-75 on the Buckhead border.
Besides the May 25 Buckhead meeting, three more public meetings are coming up: May 26, 6:30 p.m., Adamsville Recreation Center, 3201 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive N.W.; June 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Rosel Fann Recreation Center, 365 Cleveland Ave. S.E.; and June 2, 6:30 p.m., at the Helene Mills Senior Center, 515 John Wesley Dobbs Ave. N.E. in the Old Fourth Ward.
MARTA intends to submit a draft project list to the City Council by May 31 and hopes for a council vote approving it by June 20. If that happens, the tax-boost question would be forwarded to the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for review and possible placement on the November ballot.