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MARTA seeks to expand rail in Alpharetta

Alpharetta Council not convinced

September 17, 2013
ALPHARETTA, Ga. – Traffic gridlock is a way of life in North Fulton, especially along Ga. 400 during rush hour. To help mitigate that, MARTA is seeking to expand public transportation, especially rail service, up to Windward Parkway.

MARTA is in the midst of planning what to do north of the North Springs station in Sandy Springs. Representatives came before the Alpharetta City Council Sept. 21 to give an update on the study and to gain feedback.

And the council had plenty of feedback.

"Alpharetta residents have no interest in heavy rail," said Councilmember Michael Cross bluntly. His sentiment was echoed by his peers on council.

MARTA is weighing three types of expanded service north of the river, along the Ga. 400 corridor – bus rapid transit, light rail and heavy rail. Heavy rail is similar to what currently dead ends at North Springs, and what MARTA is leaning toward expanding clear up to Windward Parkway with several new stations.

One of the largest criticisms from council was, if MARTA were in fact to expand, the one place it would make sense would be at Old Milton Parkway, next to Avalon and the future Gwinnett Tech campus. However, plans from MARTA do not call for such a station.

Instead, heavy rail stations are suggested for Northridge Road, Holcomb Bridge Road, Mansell Road, North Point Mall and Windward Parkway. A bus station may be placed at Old Milton Parkway.

Despite the fact that MARTA's area of study encompasses much of the northern suburbs, because it intends to track Ga. 400, Alpharetta will see the most impact, with most of the stations proposed within its borders.

"You need to get community support," said Councilmember D.C. Aiken to the MARTA representatives. "If you look at the proposed stations, four of the six are in Alpharetta. However, you've had so many community meetings but none have been in Alpharetta."

He and other members of the council suggested Alpharetta residents were not in favor of heavy rail and the density that would be required to support it.

Instead, it was suggested to increase bus service first and gauge the impact.

Janide Sidifall, senior project manager with MARTA, said she expects 23,700 daily riders if the rail system is expanded to Windward, at a cost of at least $1.6 billion to build and annual maintenance costs of $19 million. However, she said MARTA was not sold on any one plan and would look at all alternatives to increase service in North Fulton.

"The consensus is people want something along the Ga. 400 corridor," Sidifall said. "We're trying to find the right mix."

A public meeting will be held Sept. 26 at Alpharetta City Hall. The public will be able to see the suggested plans from MARTA and give feedback. The meeting will be between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m.

For more information about the Connect 400 initiative, go online to or on Facebook at Connect 400.

Editor, Milton Herald
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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    September 17, 2013 | 08:20 PM

    I think a lot of Alpharettians would support a rail system. Alpharetta is becoming more than just a suburb, it is also a hub for jobs, especially high tech jobs. To attract the young techy employees who likes work in these fields, you would have to have public transportation.

  2. report print email
    rail support
    September 19, 2013 | 09:55 AM

    I think rail up to Windward would be a very good idea. It would help decrease traffic along GA400. You have to keep in mind, that this is just the planning stages. It probably would be 10 years before reality considering how slow projects this size move.

    Jack M
  3. report print email
    another suppporter
    September 19, 2013 | 10:28 AM

    We, too, support in concept rail service in our area. Many good points were raised about funding and locations during the meeting. What was distressing was to hear the council reps dismiss the whole idea with comments like -"I can't think of a single person in Alpharetta who favors the idea of rail here." This demonstrates the narrow range of citizens that they communicate with- and not just on Marta issues. Those not in favor of something are generally the first to speak out. We need open minded dialogue on this issue from all parties involved. And we need more of our citizens to attend Council meetings to let their voices be heard.

    Dianna S
  4. report print email
    Yeah Right
    September 27, 2013 | 12:57 PM

    If you think my neighbors who live in Alpharetta and Milton are excited about public transportation expansion. You have lost your mind.

    Fulton County can't even deliver a water bill to my house every month. Why would I trust them to better my non government dependent life. It's not my responsibility to get you to your job; Make it easy for you to get to the airport, or travel inside the perimeter. Look at the P/L statements of NY, Chicago, and DC. The transportation is their biggest single expense.

  5. report print email
    "Alpharetta Residents have no interest in heavy rail"
    October 01, 2013 | 01:57 PM

    Interesting....are they the ones that sit on 400 every single morning and evening...wasting gas, time and money...not being able to get any work done because they have to watch the road so they don't get into an accident??? Really?? I live in Alpharetta and would gladly welcome heavy rail. This should have been completed years ago.

  6. report print email
    Ghetto comes to Alpharetta
    October 01, 2013 | 05:56 PM

    Public transportation brings crime...apartment buildings due as well. Look at Holcomb Bridge rd. Stop building things that bring the Riff Raff.

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