MARTA looks at $3B expansion in DeKalb

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ATLANTA - On Monday, the MARTA board paved the way for two major expansion projects in DeKalb County.

One project would bring light rail service from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the area around Emory University, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Clifton Road. The second project would extend service in southeast DeKalb County along Interstate 20 at the Mall at Stonecrest.

The MARTA board marked the projects at the top of its priority list Monday, allowing officials to begin the process of pursuing federal money.

“We have stayed right according to plan in terms of moving these projects forward, and we are very delighted to be where we are today,” MARTA CEO Dr. Beverly Scott told Channel 2’s Diana Davis.

The total cost of the combined projects is more than $3 billion. MARTA hopes about half of that money will come from the federal government.

Scott said local money will be equally important for the projects.  On July 31, metro Atlanta voters will decide on a one cent sales tax to fund regional transportation. Passing that will be crucial to MARTA’s long range plans and the two projects.

“You have to come up with local funding for the projects. We’ll be able to show that we truly have local commitment and support behind an expanded regional transit expansion program,” Scott said.

She said passing the one cent sales tax will make metro Atlanta stay competitive with other cities fighting for their share of federal transportation money.

“I believe when this region stands together and shows that we are prepared to put our money and all of our strength behind, I just don’t think anybody else can whip us,” Scott said.

MARTA’s last major expansion was 12 years ago when it added rail service to the Sandy Springs and North Springs stations.

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