Atlanta

Some southwest Atlanta neighbors upset with MARTA plan for buses over rail

ATLANTA — MARTA is pitching a new proposal to people who live in southwest Atlanta.

Many were hoping to get a light-rail line that would have run west on Campbellton Road from the Oakland City MARTA station to the Barge Road park-and-ride lot just outside the perimeter.

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Channel 2′s Steve Gehlbach spoke to some people who are upset that MARTA chose more buses instead of light rail.

MARTA made the announcement last week, and many in the community are not happy about it, including three Atlanta City Council members.

MARTA committed to upgrading transit along the corridor, and last week it unveiled plans for a new bus rapid transit line running down the center of Campbellton Road, along with upgrades to sidewalks and miles of new bike lanes.

Atlanta council member Marci Collier-Overstreet said she was surprised by the pick of rapid buses over light rail, but more so by the total investment.

“This is about the city of Atlanta. All sides of the city having equity here,” she said.

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According to MARTA, the bus line will be about $200 million cheaper and up and running three years sooner.

“I prefer they don’t choose buses if they don’t know how to invest in Campbellton Road,” Collier-Overstreet said.

That’s why she and others representing southwest Atlanta called Tuesday night’s town hall meeting. They said rail service would be a bigger boost to the area and bring more transit-oriented development, saying the total price tag shouldn’t change even with buses.

“I know that Campbellton Road needs all $317 million, so we have a difference of about $200 million we’re talking about here, and I’m determined to get that.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, Channel 2′s Matt Johnson spoke with impassioned residents of southwest Atlanta who say they deserve more.

“This part of town has been forgotten about for a long time,” J. Lawrence Miller told Johnson. “We deserve something nice in southwest Atlanta.”

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After the meeting, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens assured Johnson that he will continue pressing MARTA to fully invest in the southwest Atlanta community.

“As a community member myself, I see this as an opportunity to get it right. 300+ million dollars were promised to this corridor and I’m going to make sure we’re going to stick to every dollar we’re supposed to get,” Dickens said.

A statement from MARTA late Tuesday afternoon said they’re extremely disappointed with the negative and inflammatory tone, and said that suggesting they’re “stealing” money from southwest Atlanta is “absurd and false.”

The full MARTA board is set to vote on the Campbellton Road plan at their meeting in March.

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