By Annie Peterle
“Atlanta citizens have endured nearly two decades of community engagement for the Atlanta BeltLine, have supported coordinated planning and other studies between all the agencies involved, even voted for a regressive sales tax to build the transit they have envisioned. And after all of that, the More MARTA plan proposes that two thirds of the loop will not be served by transit – at least not in our lifetimes.” – Original BeltLine Visionary Ryan Gravel, recent Atlanta Business Chronicle Op-ed
The MARTA board will vote October 4 for which transportation projects proposed by intown neighborhoods will be selected for funding by the voluntary sales tax increase Atlantans voted for in November 2016. At the time of the 2016 vote, residents’ top priority was completion of the long-awaited 22 miles of light rail transit on the BeltLine, designed to connect 45 richly diverse neighborhoods to each other and to existing MARTA lines, providing intown residents of all ages, abilities, and economic levels the opportunities that come with equitable transit access and participation in a true urban environment. However, the current MARTA plan includes funding for only two short, non-congruent sections of BeltLine rail – which excludes 2/3 of the loop, including the entire section that traverses Porch Press neighborhoods, the northwest quadrant, and most of the southwest portion.
Neither the current MARTA-developed survey nor their recent town halls, ostensibly seeking citizen input, even offer complete BeltLine transit as an option. What they prioritize is four miles of rail between the Lindbergh Station and Emory University, which has only recently been annexed into the city. Many residents agree that this represents an egregious hijacking of funding–intended to benefit all intown neighborhoods–for the benefit of a specific institution, as well as a spectacular failure to capitalize on the decades of ground work and land acquisition necessary to fulfill the BeltLine’s vision.
BeltLine Rail Now!, organized by BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel and former City Council President Cathy Woolard, has produced an alternate plan that, among other things, prioritizes completion of the 22 miles of BeltLine light rail while directing a fairer portion of our tax funds toward the Emory/Clifton corridor.
For more information, visit https://beltlinerailnow.com or contact Grant Park transportation chair Rick Hudson email@example.com. Also contact your city officials, who still have a chance to influence these decisions. The final MARTA board meeting before the vote was held on Thursday, September 6 at the MARTA offices at 2424 Piedmont Road.
BeltLine Transit to Be Abandoned in Porch Press Neighborhoods?
By Annie Peterle