MARTA's board of directors approved on Monday a $1.16 billion plan that includes nearly nine miles of light rail between Buckhead and Avondale Estates.
The 10-stop line would include several stops in the area.
The ambitious plan, which could take an additional eight years of planning and testing before construction begins, could dramatically change transportation in the area, which finds its major arteries choked with traffic during morning and evening rush hour.
The MARTA board also approved a plan for more public transportation options in the I-20 corridor.
Both projects are among 157 “key” projects that would be partially funded .
The Clifton Corridor project would cost about $1.1 billion to complete. The transportation tax would cover about $700 million.
MARTA is applying for federal funding for the two rail projects and enhanced bus service from downtown into DeKalb County.
Details from the approved Clifton Corridor plan include 8.8 miles of light rail double track, including tunnels and elevated sections and 10 platforms at the following stops:
- Lindbergh Center (transfer to Red or Gold lines)
- Cheshire Bridge
- Sage Hill
- CDC/Emory Point
- North Decatur
- Suburban Plaza
- DeKalb Medical Center
- Avondale Station (transfer to the Blue Line)
The plan would also consider a Piedmont stop for transfer to the BeltLine and two other stops at DeKalb Industrial and North Arcadia.
Monday's vote was significant, MARTA officials said. But many more approvals await the project as MARTA faces its own bugetary pressures and is planning service cutbacks.
"[The vote] was significant from the point that now we can move to the next step," said Cheryl King, MARTA's assistant general manager for planning.
Even though the transportation authority is facing an austere budgetary situation, King said it was important for MARTA – due to the extraordinary amount of time it takes to get these projects built – to plan as far as a decade ahead even if that means approving highly priced projects now.
"We gotta plan now for the future," she said. "A lot of our planning work is paid for with federal grants, and it can only be used for that purpose."