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Atlanta's Regional Rail and Transit Systems.


monsoon

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  • 2 weeks later...

It's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy past my bedtime but I was reading the paper and low and behold I see some great news.

I am so elated that I can barely contain myself.

Goody goody gumdrops!!!!!!!

Okay here is the great news...........and it's about commuter rail!!!!!

Macon may get rail access to downtown Atlanta afterall. Let's all keep our fingers and toes crossed.

Draft rail line contract OK'd

From the article:

Clayton County has approved a proposed contract that would obligate the county to fund shortfalls in the operation of a commuter rail for 50 years.

On Monday, County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell signed the draft contract, to be made with the state Department of Transportation and the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority. DOT still is considering the project, which would begin in downtown Atlanta and travel through Clayton County and eventually to Macon.

It's a small step but you have to start somewhere. :thumbsup:

Maybe this will help all the thousands of commuters heading north from the southern suburbs of Atlanta. It could also open more employment options for people in the greater Macon/Warner Robins area.

B)

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State Sen. Valencia Seay (D-Riverdale) said she supported the idea of commuter rail but opposed making Clayton County residents pay for what she sees as a state project to relieve Atlanta's congestion.

Ha. The typical "Why should we in the suburbs care about what happens in the city?" concern.

Couple of things:

1. Isn't there congestion in Clayton County, too?

2. Isn't it, in fact, the fault of Clayton County (and all the other suburban counties) that Atlanta is so congested? They all chose to live far from town. Nor would 95% of the people in Clayton live there if Atlanta did not exist.

3. First and formost, this isn't about relieving congestion, although some people may bill it as such. It's about transportation options.

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Ha. The typical "Why should we in the suburbs care about what happens in the city?" concern.

Couple of things:

1. Isn't there congestion in Clayton County, too?

2. Isn't it, in fact, the fault of Clayton County (and all the other suburban counties) that Atlanta is so congested? They all chose to live far from town. Nor would 95% of the people in Clayton live there if Atlanta did not exist.

3. First and formost, this isn't about relieving congestion, although some people may bill it as such. It's about transportation options.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think the bigger issue here is that transportation is a REGIONAL problem and needs to be dealt with on a REGIONAL basis, instead of just requiring those communities that each route happens to pass through to pay for it.

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I think the bigger issue here is that transportation is a REGIONAL problem and needs to be dealt with on a REGIONAL basis, instead of just requiring those communities that each route happens to pass through to pay for it.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I agree that it should become a regional issue. I am surprised that Gov. Perdue has not stressed the importance of regional cooperation in terms of transportation options in the greater metro area. GRTA was formed to address these issues under frmr Gov. Barnes yet it has been a little more than a social group.

Unfortunately single jurisdictions may have to take some initiative. Maybe even Clayton, Henry, Bibb and counties in between can form their own group to spearhead development of the commuter line from Macon to Atlanta. It would be beneficial for these counties to be forward thinking. Traffic on I-75 south the bottom end of I-285 is horrible and it's not going to get better. Henry is in the top ten fastest growing counties in the country. Development is sprawling even further south. Something has to be done.

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Ha. The typical "Why should we in the suburbs care about what happens in the city?" concern.

Couple of things:

1. Isn't there congestion in Clayton County, too?

2. Isn't it, in fact, the fault of Clayton County (and all the other suburban counties) that Atlanta is so congested? They all chose to live far from town. Nor would 95% of the people in Clayton live there if Atlanta did not exist.

3. First and formost, this isn't about relieving congestion, although some people may bill it as such. It's about transportation options.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yup. Beyond which, the idea that it's unfair for Clayton to pay for this is absurd. Who should pay for it if not Clayton County? People from Gwinnett who will continue to rely on the foolproof, congestion-free HOV lanes? People from Savannah who never will set foot in Atlanta, let alone in a commuter train station in Griffin or Jonesboro?

Until this region grows up and wakes up it'll continue to be the emblem of how not to grow as a metropolitan area. Atlanta is so full of itself, with all its claims to being a world-class city, but it's not even close and will become further and further from realizing its potential the longer it tells itself it's doing everything right. Clearly it's not.

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Yup. Beyond which, the idea that it's unfair for Clayton to pay for this is absurd. Who should pay for it if not Clayton County? People from Gwinnett who will continue to rely on the foolproof, congestion-free HOV lanes? People from Savannah who never will set foot in Atlanta, let alone in a commuter train station in Griffin or Jonesboro?

Until this region grows up and wakes up it'll continue to be the emblem of how not to grow as a metropolitan area. Atlanta is so full of itself, with all its claims to being a world-class city, but it's not even close and will become further and further from realizing its potential the longer it tells itself it's doing everything right. Clearly it's not.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Wether its a world class city or not, it has no jurisdiction to begin any kind of commuter rail service througout the metro area. That is going to take some vision at the state level or by some state agency (which I thought GRTA was for). But again, why should one jurisdiction only be held accountable for the cost of running the system, when the citizens of adjacent communities will use the service as well? To me this seems like a rather piecemeal approach to solving transportation problems. But as Lady Celeste said, this apparently is whats required to even get the system started.

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Wether its a world class city or not, it has no jurisdiction to begin any kind of commuter rail service througout the metro area.  That is going to take some vision at the state level or by some state agency (which I thought GRTA was for).  But again, why should one jurisdiction only be held accountable for the cost of running the system, when the citizens of adjacent communities will use the service as well?  To me this seems like a rather piecemeal approach to solving transportation problems.  But as Lady Celeste said, this apparently is whats required to even get the system started.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"The state and federal government would pay $106 million for the first three years of capital costs. But Clayton County and its cities with train stops would need to fund operating and maintenance costs not covered by passenger fares. The DOT previously estimated the price tag to be about $4 million annually."

Clayton isn't paying for this by itself, but it should certainly bear an increased share of the burden. I think what's really at stake here is the same old aversion to building anything other than highways. It sounds like the right-of-way already entirely exists, that the construction costs are going to be pretty small. It would certainly be nice for Clayton county if they didn't have to pay a dime more than anyone else in Georgia to receive an unprecedented service, but not quite fair.

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"The state and federal government would pay $106 million for the first three years of capital costs. But Clayton County and its cities with train stops would need to fund operating and maintenance costs not covered by passenger fares. The DOT previously estimated the price tag to be about $4 million annually."

Clayton isn't paying for this by itself, but it should certainly bear an increased share of the burden. I think what's really at stake here is the same old aversion to building anything other than highways. It sounds like the right-of-way already entirely exists, that the construction costs are going to be pretty small. It would certainly be nice for Clayton county if they didn't have to pay a dime more than anyone else in Georgia to receive an unprecedented service, but not quite fair.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

No what WOULD be nice is if the state created a mechanism or body to start, fund, and manage a comprehensive mass trasportation network designed to best serve the 4 million plus people in metro Atlanta. Thats what I think would be nice.

My point IS NOT Clayton county and whether or not they pay more than anyone esle in GA. The point is that any hope for creating a commuter alternatives here rests with communities that the route happens to pass through....they HAVE to committ to funding its operation. Would the state build an interstate system and ask individual counties to maintain it? And if some places refuse, then I suppose we'll have no commuter rail. This wouldn't just penalize those particular jurisdictions but would penalize the whole region just as a successful transit system would benefit the whole region.

And Im aware that the state, with federal money is starting the system, I brought up the need for the state to impelement the system because you seem to blame "full of itself" Atlanta for not having one and the fact that "the same old aversion to building anything other than highways" exists primarily at the state level.

So again what Im saying is this is a regional issue and would best be dealt with on a regional basis.

Edited by Martinman
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I think we should start a letter writing campaign to Governor Sonny Perdue.

I know what will probably happen if it became a statewide issue. Senators and representatives from the southern counties of Georgia will complain about funding the system. It's so silly that people can't think beyond their own counties.

Perhaps the governor could start a 28 county tax region....similar to how the Perimeter Center, Buckhead and Cumberland/Galleria areas self tax themselves for infrastructure improvements. I'm sure Athens/Clarke and Macon/Bibb counties would be more than happy to join in with us. If the proposal is presented correctly.

As a matter of fact I think I will email Gov. Perdue myself.

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No what WOULD be nice is if the state created a mechanism or body to start, fund, and manage a comprehensive mass trasportation network designed to best serve the 4 million plus people in metro Atlanta.  Thats what I think would be nice.

My point IS NOT Clayton county and whether or not they pay more than anyone esle in GA.  The point is that any hope for creating a commuter alternatives here rests with communities that the route happens to pass through....they HAVE to committ to funding its operation.  Would the state build an interstate system and ask individual counties to maintain it?  And if some places refuse, then I suppose we'll have no commuter rail.  This wouldn't just penalize those particular jurisdictions but would penalize the whole region just as a successful transit system would benefit the whole region.

And Im aware that the state, with federal money is starting the system, I brought up the need for the state to impelement the system because you seem to blame "full of itself" Atlanta for not having one and the fact that "the same old aversion to building anything other than highways" exists primarily at the state level.

So again what Im saying is this is a regional issue and would best be dealt with on a regional basis.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Martinman -- I think our disagreement about this is partially the result of miscommunication and partially the result of differing perspectives. I certainly agree that transportation and congestion relief is a regional issue in Atlanta and needs to see good regional leadership. But to be perfectly frank I don't see this commuter line easing congestion in Atlanta or taking enough cars off the road that people in other suburbs see much improvement. What it does provide is an alternative mode of transit to those who live in that area and work downtown, as well as ease traffic on that leg of I-75. Eventually if the entire system is completed and a good portion of the 4.5 million in the metro area have access to rail transit -- AND if it has any effect in centralizing people's workplaces intown -- then and only then will it it relieve some congestion and improve the region as a whole.

Unfortunately, as much as I like rail I don't believe it'll really take off in Atlanta. Granted, I've been out of Atlanta almost a year now, but unless the cultural climate has changed drastically I can't imagine this project getting public support if proposed as a way to promote downtown density. Yet I think the success of the whole rail system depends on having a critical mass of employment downtown. It seems to me that jobs continue to move to suburban office parks. I'd say that the people I knew who worked in Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Buckhead, Alpharetta, etc., outnumbered those who worked downtown or in Midtown maybe 5:1. It's a nice idea to have all these transit options converge on Five Points but I think it's a futile one unless many, many people can easily access their workplace from there.

Also, I disagree that the aversion to public transportation initiatives is primarily at the state level. Gwinnett and Cobb counties had the opportunity to get on board with MARTA (and Clayton as well if I'm not mistaken) and declined. Their solution instead has been to run buses from the parking lots of malls, and even that idea came only when their traffic situations had undeniably reached quality-of-life reducing levels. It's not all south Georgia homers in the legislature who are to blame for the decisions that have been made to this point. Now it's time for the local municipalities to step up to the plate and take responsibility, if they want to make any progress against this issue that is making life a living hell for their own constituents.

Edited by dixiecupdrinking
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Martinman -- I think our disagreement about this is partially the result of miscommunication and partially the result of differing perspectives. I certainly agree that transportation and congestion relief is a regional issue in Atlanta and needs to see good regional leadership. But to be perfectly frank I don't see this commuter line easing congestion in Atlanta or taking enough cars off the road that people in other suburbs see much improvement. What it does provide is an alternative mode of transit to those who live in that area and work downtown, as well as ease traffic on that leg of I-75. Eventually if the entire system is completed and a good portion of the 4.5 million in the metro area have access to rail transit -- AND if it has any effect in centralizing people's workplaces intown -- then and only then will it it relieve some congestion and improve the region as a whole.
Edited by Martinman
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Of course this single, incomplete rail line is not going the alter traffic throughout the region... its not a magic bullet.  This is just the first installment of a region wide plan and the reason this is the first is because it easiest to startup and the line is intented to eventually go to Macon.

Also you seem to be bringing up a whole lot of issues that I never addressed.  I was not trying to assign blame and suburban counties rejecting Marta decades ago is a completely seperate issue.  Plus I don't really see how where your aquaintances work is relevant.  What I'm talking about is the situation right now and the likelyhood of getting effective transit throughout the region. 

The ONLY government that even has the power to do this is the state. And head of the state agency that is handling this (DOT) stated that he can think of a lot better ways to spend the $100 million this will cost.  Now how much would you be willing to bet that those "better ways" don't involve asphalt.  This is what Im talking about, not "S Ga homers" or anyone else in the legislature.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You know, really you're right. I think I reacted like I did because I'm so frustrated with the "stay the course" attitude of suburban Atlanta (and other cities as well) in the face of issues that clearly have to be addressed. I'd like to see Clayton bite the bullet and pay the $4 million a year they're being asked to pay, because it doesn't sound exorbitant to me. But certainly there does have to be transparency and oversight on the issue, the county shouldn't be locked into paying unknown sums in the future.

Based on their track record, however, I would actually be willing to bet that the DOT's "better ways" DO involve asphalt, and lots of it. Are there HOV lanes this far down I-75 yet? If not, $100 mil could shoot 'em all the way to Macon. I don't think that would solve anything, but it's the best that the government has offered to this point.

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  • 4 weeks later...

State Transportation Board Reaffirms its Support of an Atlanta-Lovejoy Commuter Rail Line

In a 7-5 vote on Sept 15, the board adopted a resolution authorizing GDOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl to enter into an agreement with Clayton County to establish the line.

The 26-mile rail corridor would connect Atlanta, with a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal adjacent to the Five Points MARTA station, and Lovejoy in southern Clayton County with stops in East Point, Forest Park, Morrow and Jonesboro and is expected to be in operation by October 2006.

http://www.atlantadowntown.com/NewsStateSupportsLovejoy.asp

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State Transportation Board Reaffirms its Support of an Atlanta-Lovejoy Commuter Rail Line 

In a 7-5 vote on Sept 15, the board adopted a resolution authorizing GDOT Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl to enter into an agreement with Clayton County to establish the line. 

The 26-mile rail corridor would connect Atlanta, with a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal adjacent to the Five Points MARTA station, and Lovejoy in southern Clayton County with stops in East Point, Forest Park, Morrow and Jonesboro and is expected to be in operation by October 2006.

http://www.atlantadowntown.com/NewsStateSupportsLovejoy.asp

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is wonderful wonderful news. Soon this line will be on it's way to Macon and then perhaps we can turn our thoughts to the Athens and Chattanooga lines. Please please please get this done and let it be successful. Atlanta and the north Georgia region could definitely benefit from commuter rail.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Politics/nimby-ism probably? Wasn't there really strong opposition from Cobb and Gwinnett in the past?

To serve as reference:

Fulton_county.gif

Correct, they were afraid of the "bad element" moving in through MARTA. While this fear was not totally unfounded (some of Atlanta's rougher neighborhoods are on the west side where Cobb is), one must wonder why the "bad element couldn't just cross the Fulton county line ( :o ) and get into these counties just as easily.

I'm not too sure why Gwinnett hasn't approved MARTA yet, but it can probably be more attributed to NIMBY influenced politics rather than a fear of the "bad element".

Douglas County, although slightly smarter in growth than the surrounding counties, will probably notallow MARTA for the same "bad element" fear as Cobb. It however, has never really taken a definite stance on the issue because it was never really asked to.

Gwinnett, Coweta, Carroll (never taken a stance, either), Cherokee, and Forsyth would probably do better with the commuter rail ideas than MARTA because MARTA is meant to be more of a local system than a system that serves places that far out, but it could extend to these counties (with the exception of Carroll, perhaps) if it wanted too.

Feel free to correct me on this

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Thanks, ironchapman :)... Another recollection of mine revolves around MARTA's management and perceived or actual mismanagement, misspending, etc., and those counties not wanting anything to do with MARTA, perceived as corrupt. Care to expound on that? :)

MARTA has had a bad history of mismanagement, I will tell you that, but other forumers who have been in Atlanta longer than I have can elaborate on that. It has had some issues recently with trying to find enough money, hence the slightly raised fares.

Of course, many of these problems it has had involving money, management, etc. could probably be fixed to an extent if the state wasn't so cheap to it and also took charge of the system instead of a local group.

The counties that refused MARTA aren't necesarily corrupt like say, Bill Campbell's administration. Their refusal had more to do with the politics of the residents and people in control of the county. MARTA itself has had issues with corruption throughout a lot of its history.

Anybody else wish to add something?

Off topic from the rest of my post, I found this in the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

The ninth largest transit system in the United States, MARTA serves an average of more than 550,000 passengers a day.

Just an interesting tidbit I thought I'd share. It refers to both rail and bus transit together.

Here's the Encyclopedia article about it.

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What's up with the Atlanta Streetcar these days? I haven't heard anything about it in months. While it doesn't relate directly to greenspace, in terms of transit and creating liveable neighborhoods, it seems very exciting. I've seen the systems in a few other cities and they are very cool.

Have the powers that be determined that the Streetcar must defer to the Beltline? Maria Saporta had a great editorial a few months ago pointing out the need for both. I could see how the Streetcar might shape the city just as significantly as the Beltline.

I've read that the cost for setting up the entire Streetcar from West End to Buckhead would only run $56 million. That's nothing compared to what's being dumped into that Piedmont/Peachtree block alone.

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