As someone who has passionately pursued a MARTA transit line to serve the Emory University community for over two decades, I was pleased to read The Emory Wheel’s editorial in support of transit. However, a bit of clarification is needed to fully understand how the process works, the significant funding required, and the continuous and extensive advocacy efforts by the University to expand MARTA transit to campus.

MARTA depends heavily upon federal funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for major, costly projects such as the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative (CCTI), which is estimated to cost about $1 billion for the first phase to campus. Before any advancements, a local match of at least 50% is required before MARTA can even apply to the FTA. The CCTI is competing with other projects in metro-Atlanta and throughout the country for limited federal funding. A robust and highly competitive process with specific criteria is required to even be considered. 

The CCTI continues to be viewed as one of the most impactful, high priority projects in the region with a strong likelihood of being awarded federal funding.

The CCTI has been a top priority for Emory since 1998. Emory worked with the Georgia Congressional delegation to obtain $1.3 million in funding for the feasibility study in 2004 and, most recently, engaged with City of Atlanta officials to secure a $350 million commitment toward the local match.

After years of engaging with the surrounding community, key stakeholders, local, state and federal officials, and the essential planning and transportation organizations, the CCTI is poised to become the first major transit expansion MARTA has been able to advance in over two decades. We are more than ready for this train to leave the station.

Betty E. Willis is the senior associate vice president of government and community affairs at Emory University. She is also the executive director of the Clifton Corridor Partnership and president of the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association.