MARTA reps meet with public about possible expanded northern service

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MARTA representatives met with the public Thursday night in Alpharetta to explain a plan to expand service to North Fulton County along Georgia 400.

The goal is to relieve traffic that MARTA predicts will spike in the coming decades with a boom of population and new jobs in the area.

Three options include express buses, a light rail or extending the current train system north another 12 miles.

“Because it would be an extension of the existing heavy rail system, people wouldn’t have to transfer to a light rail system or to a bus rapid transit system,” said Janide Sidifall, MARTA’s Senior Project Manager.

The plans call for new tracks running just to the east of GA-400 and up to six new MARTA stations at each exit including Northridge, Holcomb Bridge, Mansell Road and ending at Windward Parkway.

Traffic on GA-400 is just too much for some commuters.

“It’s crazy. So why not take the train?” said commuter Gerald Hickman.

Critics have told MARTA about concerns that the train would bring more people and crime to their communities. Others don’t know if the huge price tag is worth it.

“I don’t know how much it would be used and how much it would cost and if it would be would actually be cost effective,” said resident Linda Rodgers.

Initial cost estimates to extend the rails and add new stations come to more than $1.5 billion and the project would take 10 to 15 years to complete. MARTA is expected to take input from the public meeting Thursday and eventually vote on a plan by early next year.

“We’re here to listen and ultimately we’re going to use all of that input and help our board make a decision on how we move forward,” Sidifall said.