Source: NorthFulton.com

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

by Jonathan Copsey

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.

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 http://www.itsmarta.com/north-line-400-corr.aspx

or email connect400@itsmarta.com. Alternatively, go on Facebook, "Connect 400."