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Druid Hiils, Morningside Residents Concerned About Transit Plans

MARTA reps explain details of possible tunnels, railwork for Clifton Corridor project

Morningside resident Jean Jordan is concerned about plans to possibly build a light rail system next to her property.

“Our back yard is on this railroad,” she said at a community meeting Tuesday night.  “Therefore it’s going to ruin our property if they build the light rail or heavy rail at grade.”  

Area residents packed a community meeting hosted by the Lindbergh Lavista Corridor Coalition and state Representative Pat Gardner Tuesday night aimed at discussing MARTA’s Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative. 

The meeting was part of MARTA’s effort to solicit input surrounding the community’s preferred method of transit for the proposed corridor, which would connect the , , and Dekalb Medical to Atlanta’s regional mass transit system.  

Tensions arose Tuesday night between MARTA representatives and community members concerning whether the proposed transit-way should be built underground or aboveground.

MARTA Project Manager Jason Morgan said that the project’s transportation options have been narrowed to bus rapid transit, light rail, or heavy rail, any of which would travel through the existing CSX right of way. 

Morgan indicated that MARTA is unable to use CSX’s actual railways.  If light rail is selected, MARTA could either expand the right of way by 70 feet to lay down additional tracks, or elevate the light rail tracks above the right of way, he added.   If heavy rail is selected, MARTA would chose between expanding the right of way, and tunneling the new transit-way under Lenox Road. 

Grady Smith, the consultant project manager for the project, indicated that the tunnel alternative would least impact surrounding communities. 

“The alternative to minimize impacts is the tunnel option,” he said.  “The impact at the street level would be fairly minimal.” 

Smith said that the tunneling would be accomplished through the process of boring, which he said is less disruptive than blasting.  Blasting requires the use of explosive. Boring does not. 

But not all community members in attendance bought Smith’s analysis. 

“Tunneling would eliminate access to… businesses,” said Woodland Hills Neighborhood Association Board Member Louis Myer.  “I want you to understand that we don’t necessarily want to follow the path that you want to take us down.” 

Morgan insisted that MARTA had not settled on a course of action, but reiterated that tunneling would have a minimal impact on surrounding communities. 

“We haven’t chosen an option,” he said.  “We’re trying to make it clear that there are tradeoffs.  Anything that operates at grade is going to have impacts.”  

MARTA plans to hold another informational meeting later in the summer regarding Clifton Corridor station area planning.  A subsequent meeting will be organized in mid to late August to announce the final proposed route and method of transportation for the transit-way. 

The project will then be subject to approval by local elected officials before it can be submitted to a public referendum on levying a regional sales tax to fund select public transportation projects. 

And even if all of these steps go as planned, it could be more than ten years before any sort of construction takes place. 

For more information, visit the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative website.

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