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MARTA narrows options for Ga. 400 expansion: Rail could run to Windward Pkwy

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March 27, 2013
NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Lack of public transportation is a recognized problem in North Fulton. Officials from the Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) aim to change that by expanding bus services and, one day, extending heavy rail service possibly as far north as Windward Parkway.

At their latest meeting on the subject, March 21 at Mimosa Elementary School in Roswell, MARTA planners unveiled some preliminary sketches of what the corridor along Ga. 400 could look like.

Entitled "Connect 400," the study area encompasses from I-285 along Ga. 400 to the Forsyth County line, a span of about 15 miles. MARTA hopes, through the study, to identify ways to improve mobility and access to public transportation while also mixing with the established land uses in the area.

"You know how bad traffic is in this area," said Project Manager Jason Morgan. "I can only imagine what it is like to endure this every day."

Through the use of more buses moving east and west, and rail lines going north and south, planners hope to lessen the amount of traffic problems that plague North Fulton.

"There's no point in building something up here if you have to sit in a lot of traffic to get to it," Morgan said.

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The primary focus of the March 21 meeting was to gauge public interest in the size of the stations along the corridor. So far, Morgan and his team are considering stations at Pitts Road, Northridge Parkway, Holcomb Bridge Road, Mansell Road, Old Milton, North Point Mall and Windward Parkway.

Not all of these stations may be built, and, depending on funding, they may be built in phases.

"If we are going to invest in this, do we have the land use patterns to make it work? How a station is designed has to coincide with the land use," Morgan said.

A large station suited for a major thoroughfare makes little sense in a residential area, for instance.

"If we have all the funding today, we're looking at least 10-15 years to finish."

It will be longer if the project is approved for federal dollars, which require more intense studies before construction. Federal funding is the ultimate goal of the study.

"This study is intended to prepare the corridor for federal and state funding," Morgan said.

Morgan's team will put together a financial plan along with an implementation plan that will be submitted to the federal government and, if they are approved, may get some funding.

The study has lasted 15 months so far. Morgan said he expects the project to be finished in the early summer.

Connect 400 is still accepting comments and suggestions. Visit

or email Alternatively, go on Facebook, "Connect 400."

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Editor, Milton Herald
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Tags: Government & News & Crime

  1. report print email
    March 27, 2013 | 01:00 PM

    Do NOT bring marta railways up to Alpharetta/Windward! That is a horrible idea and will only bring in more crime to the area. We don't want your trains here! STAY AWAY MARTA!

    Concerned 1
  2. report print email
    Rail bringing crime
    March 27, 2013 | 01:25 PM

    Is someone going to steal your TV and get on the train with it? I don't see what difference it makes if people already can use buses. Personally, I think the rail would be a nice way to get to the airport or to work. Sitting in traffic on 400 is no fun.

    Not concerned
  3. report print email
    Tired of sitting on 400.
    March 27, 2013 | 09:02 PM

    Bringing Marta heavy rail up this far is a huge decision if the area wants to compete for jobs and convenience. The idea that Marta brings crime is the biggest uneducated cop out known. The only people that don't want Marta rail are the ones who travel to drop off their kids at school everyday and go home right after. Get up everyday and go to a real job, take Marta everyday and then you can voice an opinion. I park at the Mansel Park/Ride, take the bus to N. Springs Marta and travel to Arts Center every single day. Not one single problem. If you took Marta everyday you would realize that its not a bunch of gang bangers. Its hard working folks that want to save money, take it for convenience and don't want to sit in traffic every morning. I read the paper, check my messages, get work done and laugh at everyone on 400 while I pass them everyday.

  4. report print email
    March 28, 2013 | 06:06 AM

    As a local cop I can tell you Marta does not bring crime anymore. The thugs drive now. They can't steal stuff and drag it on a train. Go back to your tennis match and stop being so head in the sand.

  5. report print email
    More delay?
    March 28, 2013 | 08:20 AM

    Rail stations up in 15 years? It should of happened 15 years ago!

  6. report print email
    NO to MARTA in Alpharetta
    March 28, 2013 | 11:31 AM

    I moved away from Dekalb County to Alpharetta after the rails were put in there. They DID bring crime to the area. They WILL bring crime to our area. We do not need the rail system in Alpharetta.

  7. report print email
    No to MARTA--Not Cost Justified
    March 28, 2013 | 04:00 PM

    Literally every study conducted on Mass transit shows the return on investment in heavy rail is JUST NOT COST JUSTIFIED. Atlanta is the least densely populated area with a mass transit system, and its effect on traffic congestion is virtually ZERO.

    Folks, it's just not worth paying for another make-work jobs program for MARTA unions to pay for an overpriced service that will NOT HELP TRAFFIC!

    Take less than 2% of the cost to build this extension and sync the traffic lights. You'd immediately feel the benefits of that for MUCH MUCH less money.

    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    No, they take MARTA then STEAL a car!!
    March 28, 2013 | 08:51 PM

    I speak from experience on that. While cars today are a lot harder to steal than mine was 15 years ago in Buckhead where I lived (witnesses saw the perps), if you don't think bringing the rail line to Windward will increase crime, you are delusional.

    And speaking of MARTA, look at the taxpayer-subsidized buses riding around Alpharetta from Old Milton Pkwy north. Up Hwy 9, over Windward, down North Point Parkway. They are practically empty! At any given time of day! So the day I see full MARTA buses in north Fulton is the day I will say that extending the rail line to Windward is validated at taxpayer expense (and personal property and safety expense).

  9. report print email
    Emphatic for Expansion
    March 28, 2013 | 11:28 PM

    I currently use MARTA Rail for transit to the airport for business trips, transit to sporting events (Falcons, Braves, & Hawks), transit to a professional training facility in Midtown, and transit to special events downtown when parking is limited/overpriced. My wife also utilizes MARTA Rail for transit to her company's training facility in Buckhead.

    I think this is a forward thinking idea and support the study. My suggestion is build the Rail to Windward, with a station at Mansell, and add subsequent stations as required in the future.

    How do we "fast-track" this project? How can I get involved and help?

  10. report print email
    think it through
    March 30, 2013 | 01:08 AM

    Taxpayers subsidize more than 70% of the cost of every MARTA ride. If MARTA fares are $2.50, the taxpayers have to pay another $5.00 toward each ride. In addition the cost to extend MARTA heavy rail to Windward is estimated at $3 to 4 billion. Light rail would cost half as much, but that is still pricey. MARTA or any mass transit will consume about 2/3 of out total transportation spending, but only about 5% of total trips could use MARTA.

    Mass transit only accounts for 5-10% of trips in urban cities. To use mass transit, it has to go where you want to go during the time you want to go. This is tough with the low density single family homes in North Fulton. The North Fulton Comprehensive Transportation Plan said we would have to increase housing densities by 10x near MARTA rail lines and 3x near bus routes. Currently the apartments near Holcomb Bridge and GA 400 are one of the only areas dense enough to justify a bus route.

    The question for all the rail and bus supporters is will they pay at least $300 more per family annually in taxes to subsidize North Fulton MARTA, even if they don't use it? Also are they willing to allow 3x to 10x higher housing densities (similar to Midtown Atlanta) to generate enough riders? If yes, are you a regular MARTA rider, or do you want 'other people' to ride it so you can drive?

    suburbanite, not urbanite
  11. report print email
    NO WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    March 30, 2013 | 11:42 AM

    The main reason I sit on 400 every day on the way to my REAL job is so I don't have hoodrats wandering through my neighborhood. YES, it will increase crime, period. We live up here so our environment is different than other areas of Atlanta, and I do not want that changed. Go walk around one of these Marta areas on a weekend. They may not be robbing you, but it is uncomfortable to say the least. I want to live in peace away from that element, so the commute is worth it.

    And no, I'm not racist. People of all races are obviously welcome up here, as long as they share our values. The welfare class needs to stay where they are.

    If you want public transportation, move somewhere else that already has it.

  12. report print email
    Rail Attacks
    March 31, 2013 | 03:38 PM

    Coming soon to a rail near you.,0,2297490.story

    Earned my way here
  13. report print email
    This is getting kinda sad.
    April 01, 2013 | 05:56 PM

    If public transportation causes crime how do you explain Detroit, crappy public transportation but high in crime. same for New Orleans or Los Angeles. And even many places in Atlanta. And then there's this..
    These false ideologies need to stop.

    And to the people complaining about subsidies. ALL Transportation modes are subsidized. Roads sure don't make money.

    And to people complaining about density, North Fulton is much more than just single family housing. There is ALOT of commercial development along the Georgia 400 corridor that would benefit greatly by a rail extension.

    Also whoever thinks that the buses in North Fulton don't get used is delusional. From personal experience the buses are standing room only during rush hour, and many-many more people would ride rail transit over bus, so the rider base is there.

    And Kim, you talk about walking around "marta areas" as uncomfortable, CLEARLY you have never walked around

    Perimeter Center
    Inman Park
    Candler park

    just to name a few.

    Atlanta is a metro area with 5 million people. You CAN NOT move 5 million people around in just private automobiles, it's just not efficient enough. If you still have a small town ideology that public transportation is crime ridden and useless, then your living in the wrong sized city. I hear Birmingham's nice.....

  14. report print email
    April 01, 2013 | 09:02 PM

    Really? So much they'd say on ESPN, "C'mon, man!"

    Not Impressed
  15. report print email
    April 01, 2013 | 10:25 PM

    "Also whoever thinks that the buses in North Fulton don't get used is delusional."

    I live and work in North Fulton. I drive daily between Windward and Old Milton north and south and east and west. I am behind, next to, and passing MARTA buses left and right at various hours throughout the day between the commute to work, from work, and during lunch hour.

    Now if you do not think that the majority of the time MARTA buses are mostly empty in the routes between Old Milton and Windward in the north-south corridors of Hwy 9 and North Point Parkway, then it is YOU that is delusional, because I look at said empty buses DAILY!!!!!!!!

  16. report print email
    No Northridge Station!
    April 02, 2013 | 12:47 PM

    I don't know what maps Marta officials are reading but the only land that is available at the Northridge Rd exit is the very slim natural barrier that shields old established neighborhoods from the 400 corridor. You will be fighting environmental groups until perdition if you even think to touch this land. Too much wildlife protection involved around the river to attempt this. If you have to run the rails down the middle of 400 that's fine but there is absolutely no need for a station here. Folks around here have to hear traffic enough from 400, we don't need to hear screeching trains as well!

    Northridge Rd
  17. report print email
    Yes to the Expansion!
    April 03, 2013 | 12:29 PM

    I can save gas money, save miles on my car, read, get work done, get some more exercise, etc, etc, etc while watching everyone else worry about getting into an accident on 400. All for it. It would make the area more competitive and feel more like a real city. So convenient to take Marta into Atlanta, like people do in NYC, Boston, Chicago, etc.. The idea that Marta brings crime is ridiculous. You want more police on the streets, pay for it then.

  18. report print email
    Marta brings gangs!!
    April 03, 2013 | 09:22 PM

    I saw a study done that shows how many gangs ride MARTA. They spray paint things and flash weird symbols with their fingers. The study showed they ride MARTA to rob suburbanites.

    NO TO MARTA because of the study's findings.

    Marta Aint Smarta
  19. report print email
    I've got a better idea...
    April 04, 2013 | 12:54 PM

    MARTA doesn't have the funding to adequately operate and maintain the network of trains and buses that it currently has, so how in the heck is MARTA supposed to expand its North Line with wholly-inadequate revenues that are in steep decline?

    Instead of waiting 10, 15, 20 or more years (or most likely, NEVER) for a death-spiraling MARTA to extend the North Line, have the North Fulton state legislative delegation make it possible for North Fulton officials to takeover the North Line and nearby connecting bus routes from MARTA and operate their own highly-functional, dependable, clean and SECURE regional transit system that is independent from MARTA.

    After taking over the North Line from MARTA, North Fulton officials could extend bus and train service up the GA 400 Corridor by taking the entire North heavy rail line (from the Airport up to however as far north on GA 400 as North Fultonites want) and nearby connecting bus routes and leasing them out to a private operator for an upfront balloon payment and smaller subsequent yearly payments.

    The payments from the upfront balloon payment from the private operator could be used to field a police force that was specially-trained to work on public transportation while having the train and bus lines leased out to a private operator means that the public would not have to pay to operate and maintain the train and bus lines.

    North Georgia
  20. report print email
    not cost effective
    April 05, 2013 | 01:56 PM

    Whoever said it would not be cost effective was correct. I remember going to a presentation 10 years ago where the cost to run the rail to Windward was $1 billion. Now its $4 billion and in 15 years when it is finished it will have cost $20 billion. There will never be enough riders to justify it that expense. And agree that the crime argument is bogus.

    bad idea
  21. report print email
    MARTA rider
    April 08, 2013 | 02:41 PM

    If you've attempted to drive south on GA-400 on a weekday morning, you can clearly see that an expansion is needed. It regularly takes 50 minutes to drive to North Springs MARTA station - a normal 10-15 minute ride.

    For people to think that it brings crime to the area: Just by looking at the articles on this site alone, there already is crime; car break ins, drug dealing ON SCHOOL GROUNDS, etc. Heck there was a murder of a child right in his own drive way not too long ago.

    Just my opinion though...

  22. report print email
    MARTA Rail up 400
    June 11, 2013 | 07:58 PM

    I moved to Dawsonville 2 years ago and think it's awesome. The problem of course is the traffic to Atlanta and the expected increase over the next ten years. I agree, MARTA is poorly run and under funded. The problem is I can't stay up here when it takes me two hours on some days from ATL. I understand many people here don't want a change, but it's pretty obvious the traffic to exit 14 is out of control. I cannot imagine in ten years. I'm voting for MARTA because it's all we have. Look at's fantastic. This will increase property values over the long run. Cobb people are fools. 10 lanes...really!. Let's have a little common sense here. I know I won't be able to enjoy the MARTA line given my age, but for the next generation, it will be great.

  23. report print email
    June 19, 2013 | 10:53 PM

    To all the naysayers who keep saying no to MARTA expansion, saying that it will bring crime: what alternatives do you guys have to in order to help with congestion? You guys just keep saying no, without any legitimate reasons or suggestions to alleviate traffic. MARTA is not filled with thugs and gangbangers; they can drive and don't need mass transit to come up to your neighborhood. That argument of crime coming when MARTA expands is so tired. MARTA can use an overhaul, especially with they way it's being funded and the management, but traffic is only gonna get worse, and you cannot move 5 million people around a metro area in just cars. Wake up, naysayers. Expansion is coming, and it should have come about 10 years ago

  24. report print email
    MARTA GA400 Expansion
    July 19, 2013 | 01:34 PM

    I have been riding a subway from age 11 in Philadelphia.
    Have ridden on public transportation in other first-tier cities, which Atlanta is not. I have been on MARTA heavy rail many times since living here in Sandy Springs and I have YET to see anyone, in all my life, carrying stolen electronics or any other stolen items on any public transportation.
    Thieves drive to your home, not carry stolen items to public transportation areas where there are cameras and transit police available.
    We are choking in our own traffic now. We cannot wait for 10 more years’ worth of studies.
    The only reasonable way to improve this is by building and expanding a mass transit system now.
    We need to keep this city growing and attract more businesses, which would otherwise go elsewhere where better forms of transportation exists.
    YES to rail expansion on GA400 north.

    Sandy Springs Resident & Project Manager

    Sandy Springs Resident & Project Manager
    Sandy Springs
  25. report print email
    Could be a good idea.
    August 19, 2013 | 11:25 AM

    The crime fear is central too Atlanta's discussion and has been for 50 years. The truth is that yes the crime might marginally go up - but the economic opportunities for both us going down and poorer folks coming up create less crime for the city as a whole. For example - we interviewed several nanny's from near Doraville and were willing to pay 10/hour but we just couldn't make it work commute wise. There are 100's of small businesses that can used skilled labor.

    I like Alpharetta and trains will make it better. But having lived in Europe for a while I think the true argument is considering express tracks. When you get this far out in a subway system the trains are just too slow. Any further expansion should consider putting in express tracks between Lindbergh-5 points-Airport. That would shave 30 minutes off downtown and airport trips and then ridership from the suburbs would really go up. Even if they can't afford 4 tracks - a 3rd one for each rush hour would do wonders to ridership.

  26. report print email
    It's WAY too late
    August 22, 2013 | 08:41 PM

    It's way too late for any kind of expansion of MARTA, of any kind. I lived west of the Chattahoochee for most of my life and I can't tell how many times MARTA could have benefited me in commuting into the city. MARTA certainly should have expanded westward and at least terminated at Fulton Industrial (since a Six Flags terminal would have not been an option because of Cobb County's rejection on support). The minds of the ignorant cannot be changed (thugs riding the the choochoo to come steal your pearls? really?) and the metro has outgrown itself tremendously to the point that there's no real right-of-way for a MARTA train to travel. I mean, what's the point of having the line run up 400 and people have to approach the highway in their cars to park and get on the train? They might as well just jump on the highway anyway.

    Mableton, GA
  27. report print email
    September 16, 2013 | 01:31 PM

    Marta to Windward increase crime!!! Please dont vote to bring Marta.

  28. report print email
    You already paid for it.
    May 02, 2014 | 03:05 PM

    With your .01 cent tax, you have already paid for MARTA to be up there. I have lived in ATL my whole life, and you are naive to think that traffic on 400 is going to get any better. More and more buildings are going to be located closer and closer to Marta train stops. Flow is going to increase dramatically north and south in the mornings and afternoons. It will be there eventually. Also, it will be in Cobb and Gwinnett eventually as well. I understand everyone's reservation, but crime will not stay out of your community because you don't have MARTA. Crime is already there.

  29. report print email
    Racist Comments
    June 26, 2014 | 01:39 PM

    I'm really tired of hearing all the racist comments related to MARTA and crime. Crimes takes place everywhere. Black and Latino people(brown people)do not commit all the crimes you hear about. There are many people who live in Atlanta who attend many of the universities and colleges in the area. They are good abiding citizens who pay taxes and wants to advance themselves. What about the stories that are hidden in the media about the crimes the children who live in the suburbs commit? MARTA expansion is needed throughout many counties in the state of Georgia. I moved here from New York almost 20 years ago and I'm embarrassed to see how behind the times we are. It is due to racism and the fear of others. God made all of us! The challenge is to accept it.

    Kelly Moore
  30. report print email
    Racist Comments
    June 26, 2014 | 01:43 PM

    I, Kelly, wrote the comment mentioned above. I forgot to include my name.

  31. report print email
    Economic Feasibility
    June 26, 2014 | 04:02 PM

    The trains cost a ton to build and operate at a loss. They are slower than driving 90% of the time because of wait time and multiple stops. If they added express service to certain areas it might help. Have you seen the buses? They are usually not close to capacity. Let's replace/supplement that unused service with a train that nobody will ride.

    It will be a heavily subsidized money loser. ALWAYS HAS BEEN ALWAYS WILL BE! I don't buy the crime argument, but from an economic standpoint Marta is a disaster.

    I am also disappointed in Beach's stated support as well and hope he is challenged in primary by someone who represents their human constituents instead of big business and government.

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