MARTA & GA Lawmakers Get Bailed Out

27 05 2009

Today, the ARC voted in favor of their plan to redirect $25 million in federal stimulus dollars to help bridge MARTA’s crippling budget shortfall that threatened to close down services for entire days of the week.

In doing so, ARC came to the rescue of not only MARTA and it’s riders, but also inadvertently Georgia lawmakers , who’s inability to pass a number of important measures this session was just beginning to gain some serious traction in the press behind this massive MARTA fumble.

Not only were rail-noodling Dems up in arms, but so was all of Atlanta’s business community, who knew full well the importance of public transportation if Atlanta (and Georgia) wished to compete in something we like to call “the global economy.”

It was just getting good.  Pissed lawmakers were giving the inside scoop on committee meetings,  MARTA was calling for special sessions, we had the House Majority Leader on record saying he went to Disney World more often than he rode MARTA (and therefore couldn’t see the benefits to his Isle of Retirement (St. Simons.)

Those were the days.  We were all pissed and we could smell the blood.  It was going to be an embarrassment to end all embarrassments.  One that might actually shame the legislature into action – since rational argument had long ago stopped having any effect.

But then ARC made their announcement that they had figured out a way to help MARTA through the year with the help of stimulus funding and all the press simply…vanished.  The hounds were called back to the house, the horses led back to the barn.

Now, as the ARC votes in favor of formalizing the MARTA bailout by giving it $25 million for “preventive maintenance” (which MARTA will repay with $25 million in “capital improvements” around MARTA stations), transit advocates are cheering with a pit in their stomachs.

Happy the city isn’t being saddled with a public transportation system that keeps the hours of a Chik-Fil-A, everyone is now wondering if the legislature learned it’s lesson.  Or have they instead learned that when they do nothing, someone else will clean up their mess?

With its generally spoiled 4-year old mentality, I’m going with the latter.


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46 responses

27 05 2009
Brad Steel

Not too fast DM. We may be enough carpetbag-hating legislators to demand a Palin to those Fed-tainted funds. Or at least to demand that the funds are equally applied to new road construction on St. Simons.

27 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

Mass-Transportation in Atlanta is a failed experiment… It cost me $20 round-trip for me and my kids to attend my daughter’s graduation ceremonies at Georgia State. I could have easily driven from Decatur and parked for less money. This was absolutely the last time that I will use the rail.

I’m always the first to opt for a good public transportation system in lieu of a rental car. I have ridden on mass transportation systems around the world – London, Paris, Budapest, Norway, Denmark, Hong Kong, etc. and MARTA fails on almost all fronts – it is still too hard to get where you want to go from wherever you are, it’s way too expensive (it stills gets a % of your sales taxes in Atlanta), and nobody really wants to ride it.

27 05 2009
Scott

WSD, you’re not seriously going to use a sample of one as an indictment of Atlanta transit, are you?

Bottom line: Atlanta runs a metropolitan transit system without any state funding. Something NO OTHER TRANSIT SYSTEM IN THE U.S. has to do.

Don’t you think maybe your problem is with someone other than MARTA?

27 05 2009
Decatur Metro

Of course, parking isn’t your only true fiscal expense when driving and parking a car (cost of car, insurance, endless road subsidies paid with your taxes, etc…), not to mention the sacrifices made that you can’t really put a price on (the destruction of downtown Atlanta, environmental effects, etc) but we’ve had that conversation here before.

In terms of pure convenience, perhaps rail isn’t on par with the car in Atlanta. But why is it a “failed experiment?” And I’m interested in the finality of your statement…i.e. “failed” as opposed to “failing.” If this were truly a supply and demand issue, you may be right, but rail gets the shaft compared to the auto when it comes to huge gov’t funding – at the tune of 9 to 1. So doesn’t it matter why it isn’t working? Maybe if it got a little more support, instead the meager Fulton and DeKalb 1-cent sales tax that you reference, perhaps it would be a bit more convenient for you.

27 05 2009
Joe C.

Sorry to pile on here, but your statement “nobody really wants to ride it” is both a symptom of what ails the system (underfunding) and a gentle nudge as to why it is absolutely necessary.

Try taking the train at rush hour, then remind yourself that nobody wants to ride MARTA. It’ll show you how many people in this city rely on MARTA on a daily basis.

27 05 2009
GAK

I’m NOT sorry to pile on. MARTA carries half a million riders a day. That’s 10% of the population of the entire 28 county region – every day. Given the total short sightedness of our “leaders” on this issue, it’s a miracle that they provide the service that they do. Public transit is the future, the failure is how we (our leadership) have chosen to embrace the concept. If we give in to the people like WSD then we will continue to fall behind the curve and all of our economic development efforts will be for naught. The fact is places like Birmingham are content to live without a well-developed mass transit system and therefore, they will always be second/third tier cities. We have the “bones” on which we can build a quality transit system and continue to compete with first tier cities. But it won’t happen by giving up on what we have – just the opposite. We need to build upon what we have, stop bitching about what what we have and force our “leaders” to embrace the idea that our future depends on supporting and growing our transit system.

Agree, Joe – anybody who says “no one rides it” doesn’t know the truth and has no business taking part in the conversation.

28 05 2009
Lisa

I’ll be happy to “pile on” to contest W. Scott Downs [edited: no name calling] statements. First, how large is your car that you could fit 6 people in it? Isn’t it more likely that you would have had to park 2 cars?

Nobody uses it? Only a half million Atlanta area residents every single day, including many Decaturites who use it to commute between downtown and midtown every day to work which makes their life much easier than having to drive and park.

You and your suburbanite mentaility may never want to ride MARTA again, and that is your choice, but don’t tell me that it is a “failed experiment” when it is something that I rely on and hundreds of thousands of other people rely on, every day in our daily lives and would make Atlanta a much lesser place to live without.

28 05 2009
Robbie C

Can we lighten up on WSD a bit? He had a bad experience and decided to ditch the system. Not really all that different than going to a restaurant, having a bad experience, and declaring it a failure (see multiple recent DM restaurant discussions for examples). Not sure why that had to turn into name calling, especially that ugly slur (“suburbanite”).

28 05 2009
Decatur Metro

Agreed. Angry transit advocates never convinced anyone or anything.

28 05 2009
W. Gibbets

If someone would rather drive then they should just say so; instead of blaming all their driving on a bad MARTA experience they had once. Cheers to GAK for pointing out that MARTA is the “bones” of what could be a decent, localized transit system–which, as it is, is still pretty useful for transportation from Decatur to downtown or midtown. It’s also interesting to see that we aren’t hearing from anyone who doesn’t own a car and actually needs MARTA to get to work.

28 05 2009
another Rick

You want a family discount? Have you considered the environmental cost of you car trip, or are you just thinking about the short run personal out of pocket cost? The big difference between the great rail systems and cities you cite, and our small public system, is the level of public subsidy. How have you concluded “nobody really wants to ride it”?

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

Nobody wants to ride it… How many people ride it out of necessity vs. how many people have left their cars in the garage and _want_ to ride instead. People want their cars – sorry, it’s just a fact! I would give up my car in a heartbeat for a great transit solution… CLIFF is pretty cool – but they serve too small an area.

27 05 2009
Andisheh Nouraee

Part of me wishes ARC did not come through. Left-right, conservative-liberal, donkey-elephant, all of the residents of metro Atlanta need to better understand the destructive animosity directed at the metro area by the city-hatin’ politicians who run the state. The only way Metro Atlanta voters are going to get it in sufficient numbers is for more locals to suffer the consequences of the state’s ruinous policies. The sooner the suffering the comes, the sooner voters are going to do something about it.

In conversations about state leaders trying to strangle Atlanta, one sometimes hears metro Atlantans retort with something like “If not for Atlanta, this state would be worse than Mississippi or Alabama.”

I’ve thought and said that myself.

Over the past year I’ve come to realize that Sonny, Casey, Glenn and their ilk don’t think being like Mississippi and Alabama is a bad thing.

They know better than anyone that progress is going to kill them and their type off. The friendlier metro Atlanta is entrepreneurs and educated professionals, the less likely they are to get anywhere near the levers of power. Their hatred of Atlanta isn’t sadism. It’s cynical self-preservation.

And note to WSD-

London, Paris, Budapest, Norway, Denmark, Hong Kong, etc are better systems b/c successive govts in those places dug the holes, layed the rails, and levied the taxes necessary to make them quality systems. By contrast, state leaders (with federal help) subsidized car travel and car-dependent development.

The main thing that sucks about MARTA – that it doesn’t go most places people need to go – isn’t MARTA’s fault.

27 05 2009
jbgotcha

Amen to that, brother!

28 05 2009
Brad Steel

Well stated, Andisheh. And unfortunately too true.

Compounding the problem is the no-government-best-government kool-aid drinkers. By starving MARTA and public transit, both will produce predictably emaciated results. Hence, every election the rural republican types can crow: “see, I told you so. It just won’t work here. but big ol’ roads and cheap gas – that works.”

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

I agree with that! Do it right, or don’t do it at all. I’m not a MASS-TRANSIT hater (I told you I ride systems every chance I get). I’m just very disappointed in what we have here. Marta was fun when it was .75 cents (I think it cost me .10 cents to cross the bay to Kowloon in HK).

28 05 2009
Progressive Dem

I don’t see how there is any option except more transit. The average car emits 5 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmospere every year! Those denying global warming might as well join the flat-earth club. When gasoline prices climbed to $4 bucks a gallon, we all had a taste of what higher oil prices felt like. Filling the tank was no longer an incidental purchase. Our economy and our daily lives are very much dependent upon cheap gasoline. Does anyone believe that oil prices are going to decline, or even stay the same? The increased demand for oil from India and China are likley to drive global demand highere and higher. In all liklihood oil production in Saudi Arabia has peaked and is likely to decline. I think we need to have a crash course in expanding high speed interstate rail, intra-state commuter rail and metropolitan transit systems. All those billions that we threw down that rat hole in Iraq could have built some 21st century transportation in the US. What a shame.

28 05 2009
dem

One option is more fuel efficient cars. They already exist, the problem is that most people don’t want to buy them. Things were headed that way when gas was $4 a gallon, but then oil prices crashed, and all of a sudden you don’t have to get on a waiting list to buy a Prius anymore.

Maybe we’re near “peak oil” and maybe we’re not. No one knows for sure. But we can make that issue irrelevant by taxing gasoline to a much greater extent than we do now, making it $4 or $5 per gallon at a minimum. This, of course, is not something Washington is willing to do. Instead, we have the GM and Chrysler fiascos, where taxpayers will be funding these companies to build cars that, at present, almost no one wants to buy. It’s beyond idiotic.

As for “expanding high speed interstate rail, intra-state commuter rail and metropolitan transit systems”, we need a lot of money to do that, and we don’t have it. The federal government is broke. Yields on treasurys spiked yesterday; the Chinese may stop buying Treasurys altogether. Already, the Fed is buying Treasurys directly — i.e., printing new money and loaning it to the government. Talk about unsustainable.

And, once again, a huge part of MARTA’s underfunding problem stems from its baffling refusal to raise fares, even after sinking $100 million into Breeze. Somehow that always seems to get ignored here amid the never-ending calls for more state money — which, by the way, the state doesn’t have. It seems to me that if you go 7 years without increasing prices, you’re quite likely to have a pretty severe revenue problem. And what do you know, MARTA does.

28 05 2009
Decatur Metro

We also need a lot of money to build and maintain roads. And it’s not like we’re asking for higher taxes to pay for transit, just reallocation of some of the road money.

In regards to fuel efficient cars, yes they are part of the environmental solution, but it does nothing about gridlock. And Atlanta can’t keep growing in population and competing as a global city if it keeps growing at the fringes.

If we’re putting money on failed experiments, in the long run I’d go with the suburbs over transit any day.

And finally, our seemingly endless conversation about MARTA’s finances. Raising rates causes a decrease in ridership, so it’s not as easy a decision as you make it sound.

28 05 2009
dem

Businesses raise prices all the time, balancing price and demand to increase revenue. If MARTA can’t manage to figure that out with regard to its fares, then its managers have no business being managers. Also, not raising the fare for 7 years is an effective decrease in the fare of about 2-3% per year. They can’t even keep up with inflation?

I know we’ve been through this before. But I wasn’t going to let yet another MARTA thread go on with calls for more funding while ignoring the fare issue. I don’t think any serious approach to MARTA’s problems can ignore the fundamental role of the lack of sufficient revenue generated from the people who actually ride the trains.

28 05 2009
Decatur Metro

Speaking of raising rates.

The AJC reports this afternoon that the 25 cent increase to $2 will happen in July.

I’ll respond for you dem: “About time”

But seriously, I’d love to hear some of the people intimately involved with MARTA talk about all the issues that revolve around funding and solvency. I’m certainly not in a position to explain why a fare increase wasn’t implemented earlier, except to say that Bev Scott has been there less than two years and she’s now raising rates. Should she be blamed for the mistakes of a previous administration? Can a business or transit authority not turn itself around?

28 05 2009
Progressive Dem

Of course more fuel efficient vehicles is part of the answer, but the “we just don’t have the money” argument doesn’t cut it. Our foreign policy and military defense policy are centered around our need for oil. If we reduce our dependence on oil, we can reduce military spending. As far as the state of Georgia goes, we spend the money four-laning rural highways, but don’t spend the money where it originates in metro Atlanta. If the state and region had been designing transit and they were in fact “shovel ready” we could have used stimulus money for transit, but Georgia never puts itself in a position to attract transit dollars. The Lovejoy commuter rail is a prime example. We have an $80 million earmark that has been sitting around for 10 years, but the state hasn”t come up with the 20% match. We’re going to lose that money, and deservingly so. Every major metropolitan region in the world has transit. If we want to compete, we need to build more transit.

28 05 2009
dem

We’re borrowing about 44 cents of each dollar spent. Eliminating the military budget altogether wouldn’t balance the budget. So your solution is not a serious one even on that level, to say nothing of the extraordinarily dubious assumption that military spending is “centered on” our need for oil and could be dramatically cut if we used less oil.

28 05 2009
Progressive Dem

There is little doubt that maintaining low energy costs is a strategic goal of American foreign policy and the deployment of the military supports that policy. However, I was not attmpting to balance the budget or eliminate military spending. I am suggesting that the worlds largest economy has choices. So far we have spent over $600 billion in Iraq. We have the means to fund transit, but it is simply a matter of priorities. The current transportation policy is not sustainable from an economic or environmental perspective. The externalities associated with our dependency upon oil and autos is not reflected in the price of gasoline at the pump.

28 05 2009
Nelliebelle1197

Anyone interested in why MARTA is the way it is needs to read Clarence Stone’s Regime Politics.

28 05 2009
macarolina

Going back to Scott’s comment about parking being cheaper than MARTA- while I don’t agree with most of his post, parking being cheaper than MARTA is true in many cases and is part of the problem. Pricing does impact decision making (witness last summer), and cheap parking helps people determine that MARTA isn’t a necessary inconvenience yet. I know DM, there are many external costs of driving that don’t get factored in, but parking cost vs ridership cost and loss of flexibility go into many MARTA or not decisions. Take San Francisco as an example- parking is crazy expensive in the city there ($40/day plus), which along with more transit options, makes transit a logical choice for even non-environmentalists. I’d make the arguement that parking is too cheap right now in Downtown and Midtown. Those prices have to go up along with gas to get the MARTA haters on board on a regular basis.

28 05 2009
Robbie C

Spot on, macarolina.

I was just having the same thought. When I lived in Chicago driving simply didn’t make sense. This was because of two important factors: 1. parking was painfully expensive and 2. CTA went everywhere I wanted to go. If you take out either factor then the convienence of driving begins to look more appealing. It wasn’t a grand environmental sacrifice, it was purely self-interest that made using public transit the preferred choice.

Unfortunately, in most cases here in Atlanta, you’re missing one if not both of those conditions that would make MARTA a more attractive alternative to driving. Parking is cheap and (I don’t want to get into a debate about why this is the case) the train frequently doesn’t get you close enough to your destination (mostly a density issue, but I still marvel that Turner field doesn’t have a station). Increased density around Midtown should help this a bit, but there are still a lot of isolated train stations (ie East Lake) that lack retail or other services that would make them more than just a park & ride stop.

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

Chicago’s system is great! It’s inexpensive, it goes everywhere, and I use it ALL THE TIME when I am there…

30 05 2009
AnotherRick

At the East Lake station there is alot of parking lots that no one appears to use, especially on the south side. Can MARTA sell the lots to a housing developer?

30 05 2009
Steve

My guess would be that there isn’t enough land on the south side to develop much into – it’s much smaller than the parking area on the south side of Avondale station.

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

I could argue that SUVs are more efficient because we are actually talking Miles per Person per Gallon… It also costs no more to park an 8 passenger vehicle than a 2 person vehicle downtown (and yes, parking is lower in Atlanta than I’ve seen anywhere). So when you look at any of us with BIG FAMILIES you can see where I’m coming from. Also, I get the comments on the huge volumes of people at RUSH HOUR, but what about all the EMPTY MILES these buses and trains are running? How is that efficiency? Every time I see a bus or a train with nobody on it, I realize how inefficient the system is! Seriously, though – I could have taken a TAXI for close to the same amount.

29 05 2009
Lain

Scott et al, I think the “large families” point is the key one here.

If I’m going to the Braves game with myself or with my partner, MARTA makes a lot of sense. If I’m going with a bunch of my buddies, it makes a lot more financial sense to pile in a big car. I do not envy anyone with large a family that’s solely reliant on transit.

That said, for me — an individual commuter who actively chose to live close to a MARTA station and actively chooses to leave the car at home — our transit system is far from a failed experiment. With better land use around the stations (i.e. what Robbie C. said about East Lake), MARTA can only improve if only folks like the State and MARTOC could refrain from choking the system. Plus, relatively speaking, it’s super-cheap for my monthly pass.

The efficiency argument is sort of valid, but the trouble is it has to be balanced with accessibility. For example, MARTA Mobility, the paratransit service, is pretty darn inefficient. It’s very expensive and the service isn’t great. Getting rid of it would unload a financial burden on MARTA, but it’d also be super-discriminatory (and against the law). The same idea applies to empty buses but on a smaller scale.

I don’t know how you get around the large families problem (or if any transit system has solved it), but most of the other inefficiencies are more the result of inefficient land-use, government restrictions, and ADA requirements.

Anyway, you’re totally right about the big families thing.

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

I think you’re making my point for me…

experiment -noun
a test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle, supposition, etc.

When I call this “an experiment”, I’m commenting on the whole approach. We both grew up here and we understand that MARTA was an attempt to put Atlanta on par with other major metropolitan areas. It was conceived well, but somehow implemented poorly. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I like riding the train in NY, Chicago, – it seems like a good deal to me. The high parking rates in CHI and NY certainly contribute to this, but it’s also about getting where you need to go. You both work and live near the system – it works for you. I’d ride everyday if I had the same commute.

I work from home most of the time (when I’m not on an airplane) – don’t get me started on that one – so I’m “fairly green” to begin with. The Internet serves most of my knowledge working needs. So, when I go someplace it’s either because of a local business meeting, family commitment, or recreation. MARTA does not serve my needs – it is simply too inconvenient and logistically flawed (living in Decatur most people can appreciate that it’s easier (and shorter) to drive to Lenox than to go all the way downtown and the NORTH again on the train). It costs nothing to park at LENOX and the train ride for me and the kids is, again, $20 RT.

I started my career in transportation – it seems to me that MARTA is the worst case scenario for a “system”. If there’s one thing that trucker’s hate it’s “dead-heading” – not having any paid loads in one direction or the other. It’s true that MARTA reaches it’s peak efficiency during the RUSH hours, but what about at other times? This is clearly why the system is suffering. If folks like me won’t ride in the off-hours, then who’s going to? I actually like trains!

I guess rather than bash what I don’t like about it, I should be more constructive… Here’s an idea. Instead of raising fairs, let’s try lowering them. The fairs remain the same for business hours travel, but are then discounted during the rest of the day (heavily discounted). Nobody’s going to use that empty seat anyway. I’d consider MARTA again, if I felt the cost was reasonable. Heck, CLIFF IS FREE!

29 05 2009
Decatur Metro

I think more of the outright disagreement comes not from your ideas or thoughts WSD but from the fact that you essentially had given up on MARTA. None of us view it as perfect, but many will disagree if your conclusion is throw in the towel.

Is it really all that shocking that a city created around the streetcar isn’t all that efficient after they rip out all the streetcar lines and then 40 years later, insert a north-south, east-west rail line? Not really. Put back all. the old streetcar lines and we’d probably see the beauty of the old system. Unfortunately, that’s a pipe-dream.

No one claimed it was easy, or that the process was anywhere near completion. In my view, throwing the towel in on MARTA throws in the towel on Atlanta. Sprawl isn’t a durable model.

29 05 2009
Lain

Gotcha, Scott. I think your comment is a lot more clear than the first one.

I’d quibble with a few of your points, but overall I don’t disagree. Lowering fares during non-peak hours is a great idea. Do you know a precedent?

29 05 2009
W. Scott Downs

Man, this is a great blog… No wonder the AJC closed it’s Dekalb Bureau! Newspapers are doomed. I can’t believe how many people I run into here.

29 05 2009
Lisa

What we need is more efficient land use planning. Other than what it controls as far as its own property (some of which could be re-deleloped into high denisty use, i.e. again the East Lake Station or Avondale Station) it is not MARTA’s fault that our land use policies restricts density, has unreasonably high parking requirements, and does not require some sort of plan for access to transit.

W Scott, you talk about being in an airplane the time. It costs $10 A DAY at the economy lot at the airport. MARTA takes you right into the terminal. How can you say that is a failure?

30 05 2009
Joe C.

Scott, a couple things:

1. With the empty buses, make sure they aren’t just headed back to the Laredo facility after finishing their routes. I’m always wondering if people are making that mistake. No matter what time of day I took the bus, I don’t think I ever saw an empty one. Same goes for trains. Of course, dramatic shifts in ridership are a reality, but catch a train at Five Points at 11:30pm on a Tuesday and you’ve still got plenty of company.

2. You mention Chicago, New York and other major metropolitan areas, then compare them to our own. The problem is that we’ve just got too much land. Property values inside the city don’t go up high enough, which means parking stay cheap, which means everybody drives, which means there’s no impetus for a truly functional mass transit system.

Plus, at least our trains go faster than Chicago’s MTA.

28 05 2009
another Rick

Think about this: Our zoning laws and land use policies require some level of parking with every “high density” residential development. Some people applaud downtown residential development as “smart growth”. I see parking decks that are free for the people who buy there, no less than 3 blocks from a rapid rail station, which helps kill the possibility of a good public transit system! That is supposed to be smart? Or is it just a useful marketing term?

28 05 2009
Scott

A-Rick, it’s hardly free. Every deck parking space adds roughly $20K to the price of a condo. You pay for your parking every month with your mortgage payment.

Having no parking in a downtown condo near the rail station wouldn’t make Marta any more viable in terms of where it can take you. It would only make the condos unmarketable. The scenario you envision can only occur naturally, at the point where a transit system becomes prevalent enough to make car use unnecessary.

28 05 2009
Progressive Dem

Parking in mid-rises definitely cost a lot, but the zoning code, lenders and real estate marketing companies are the partially to blame for these costs. Lenders won’t lend unless they believe the unit will sell and they believe a 1 and half spaces are needed for every unit to sell. I hope developers will someday be given some flexibility to build fewer spaces. As the boomers age they will drive less, and won’t need two cars per household. As the cost of housing rises (it will at some point), the Gen Xers will try and get by with one car per HH. Spaces should be sold separately from units. It would force more efficiency into the process and lower costs.

30 05 2009
Lisa

One more thing about MARTA. Did anyone think at the time when the system was being built 30 years ago that maybe running the east west line down a freight train corridor, which I’m sure was cheaper to build, was maybe not the best long term idea? On the North-South line (at least between Five Points and Arts Center) they actually tunnelled the line and that is probably the area that works the best and has resulted in the most densly built developement as a result over the past 30 years and where transit works best. Same in downtown Decatur.

Transit works best when it is built into its surroundings. There is only so much you can do on a CSX corridor.

30 05 2009
Steve

“running the east west line down a freight train corridor”

That was the original plan until the Decatur City fathers at the time insisted on the line running thru downtown Decatur. The resulting upheaval (literally) caused a lot of heartache and it’s only been in the last 10 years that the area really recovered. The MARTA underground construction in downtown Atlanta had very little effect on the surface at the time, unlike Decatur.

30 05 2009
Lisa

It may have caused heartache at that time, but I think that Decatur is better for it now that we have an underground MARTA line in the heart of our city rather than on the train tracks.

Why was the underground construction in Decatur so much more disruptive than downtown/midtown? Did they dig deeper there or something?

30 05 2009
Steve

Yes, the dig in Atlanta was much deeper and generally didn’t involved cut-and-cover. It was supposed to be deeper through Decatur, but there were some engineering problems.

30 05 2009
Progressive Dem

Valid points Lisa. The East West line was a political necessity given DeKalb and Fulton’s participation. I believe some of the thinking at that time was that the east line would help bring workers into the then industrial rail corridor along the eat line. Marta was planned in the late 1960’s and early 70’s, neighborhood pioneers were just beginning in Virginia Highlands and Mornigside. Inman Park, Druid Hills, Decatur and Ansley were declining in value and condition. Construction costs along the East line were also a major factor since the right of way was somewhat easier to acquire and above ground construction is lots cheaper than drilling and blasting through the granite that is evident in the Peachtree Center station.

One of the original planned MARTA lines was to run northeast through DeKalb and out towards Tucker. It would have split from the east line near East Lake, and had a station at Clairmont and North Decatur; at North Druid Hills across from the golf driving range; in the industrial park behind Northlake Festival and onto Tucker. It was also planned along the rail corridor. I think that would be a very well used line if it had been built.

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