MARTA Board Votes to Partially Fund Clifton Corridor Light Rail

The MARTA Board of Directors approved $350 million in funding to develop the Clifton Corridor, though $100 million of that amount depends on obtaining funding from other sources.

The final “More MARTA” plan, approved on Thursday, cut funding to the Clifton Corridor project by $150 million from a previous proposal, counting on other funding sources to make up part of the difference.

The plan distributes $2.7 billion to 21 Atlanta transportation projects. The Clifton Corridor project, which is estimated to cost more than $500 million, plans for a four-mile light rail line between Lindbergh Station and Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Clifton Corridor light rail is projected to have 23,300 riders per day.

MARTA expects the federal government to match local funding by 100 percent. Private funding could come in the form of joint development or transit-oriented development (TOD), according to the MARTA Board of Directors Meeting presentation.

The 40-year expansion plan calls for the construction of 29 miles of light rail, an additional 40 miles of bus route service and the improvement of existing stations.

“More MARTA” was partially funded through a half-penny increase in Atlanta’s sales tax, which began in 2017 and is expected to generate $2.5 to $3.5 billion by 2057.

Some Atlanta residents argued that the previous plan to provide about $400 million for the Clifton Corridor project was too expensive because Emory was not part of Atlanta when the sales tax was initiated.

“The entire region is one step closer to a smart, sustainable and efficient transit network that connects communities as never before,” University President Claire E. Sterk wrote in an Oct. 4 statement. “Emory University and Emory Healthcare look forward to joining with businesses, government entities, and others who recognize the importance of this public transit opportunity and are committed to work in broad partnership to make it a reality.”  

A regional transit group called The ATL is expected to be formed by 2019 to guide the project, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The MARTA Board of Directors unanimously voted to approve the “More MARTA” program on Sept. 27, which included a comprehensive list of transit expansion projects that were later narrowed down.

Thursday’s vote represents “the region’s largest transit investment in more than four decades,” according to an Oct. 4 MARTA press release.