MARTA To Fund Planning & Design N. McDonough Rd. & Commerce Intersections

The item on last night’s agenda (page 59) – which led me to the city’s $1.77 million McDonough Street LCI grant – is also of particular interest on its own.

Remember when the Atlanta Regional Commission saved MARTA from massive cuts last year, directing $25 million in federal stimulus money to the cash-strapped transit authority’s operating budget?

Well, there were some strings attached.  It wasn’t an out-of-the-kindness-of-their-heart gift.

It was actually just a clever way to get around the suffocating state-imposed mandate that MARTA use half of its revenue from the 1-cent Fulton/DeKalb tax on “capital improvement”, even in times when the other 50% can’t keep the operating budget afloat.  (For more background info and the current sorry state on transit legislation, check out Thomas Wheatley’s excellent Creative Loafing article from yesterday)

In exchange for its $25 million operating budget “bailout”, MARTA agreed to use an equal amount of funds from its capital improvement fund to pay for studies and improvements around MARTA stations in line with the ARC’s mission to promote and fund more “livable” communities.

And it looks like Decatur will see a piece of that delicious capital improvements pie.

At last night’s City Commission meeting, the commission approved an agreement that MARTA would fund the planning and design for both the North McDonough streetscape improvements AND improvements to the Commerce Street intersections at Church Street and Clairemont Ave.

In a note to City Manager Peggy Merriss, Asst. City Manager Hugh Saxon also mentions that he believes there will be enough funding in the $750,000 budget to also design bike lanes for Church Street.

11 thoughts on “MARTA To Fund Planning & Design N. McDonough Rd. & Commerce Intersections”

  1. ARC forced to indirectly fund bike lanes, pedestrian friendly spaces. Sometimes irony just isn’t a strong enough word.

  2. Hey Decatur Metro–

    On the Marta situation: Why not channel your already juiced up readers’ energies into taking on THIS group of politicians??? We may bicker, but you sure know how to get folks to band together to make things happen! A cheat sheet with the key decision makers’ emails, a link to Thomas’ indeed excellent article, AND a challenge to all of us to “Put Up or Shut Up!” could get things moving REAL quick!

    ( Just saying…)

    1. You sorta read my mind Deanne. I was looking around this morning a bit, thinking about the best way to bring this MARTA issue back to the front pages during these final days of the GA legislative session.

      For some reason I think the best approach is not to complain to our reps, but instead to motivate ATL business leaders. CAP was pissed last year when the legislature left MARTA with no options. Where’s the outrage now?

      Transit buffs have a huge ally in metro Atlanta business leaders who know full-well how important good public transit is to the city’s image and its ability to compete with other cities. We need to let them know we want them to start pulling strings and at a minimum get this 1-cent optional sales tax legislation passed.

      I’ll see what I can dig up.

      1. I did think after posting this that maybe YOU should craft the letter for us to send. We could each tack on a brief personal comment (but avoid bombarding them with tangents!) A tad less personal, but it’d sure be easier for all your busy readers to actually bump it to the top of their “to do” list. (Plus, you should receive deserved credit if we do it!)

        And I think your idea to get with ALL Marta affected communities’ business leaders would be good. Maybe somebody else will offer up quickest strategies for that– what with time being so short to act.

        ALL Atlanta media should be joining in this campaign too. Didn’t mean it had to be a “local” effort only. Other Georgia citizens desperately want a way to be heard on this issue. I was just banking on how incredibly effective you are at making stuff magically appear on the news!

        Thomas should already have many of the needed emails from his news gathering. Throw some up there & use updates to issue new marching orders. :0)

        (Just saying…)

        1. Agh! Garbled expressed thought!

          What I meant was a DM “form” letter for each of us to then send out ( with a brief personal note added if desired.)

          And how about all the other Atlanta area bloggers? Any ideas for getting them united on this effort? This would be a great opportunity for Blogs to say “POW! We are ON IT!”

          We have GOT to let all these state politicians know that the days of sitting around & burning precious daylight & thinking no one’s watching are GONE!

      2. Excellent point, DM. The business community in Atlanta has a history of keeping dumb*** politicians in line, dating back to desegregation. I think you are definitely on to something.

        Perhaps a key business segment to address would be the hotel operators. They depend on public transportation to provide them employees and, to some extent, customers.

  3. Hi DM — just wanted to clarify that we are using the money to complete the design and construction documents for improvements to the Clairemont/Commerce and Church Street/Commerce intersections and hope to design the bicycle lane improvements north along Church Street to the city limits. The money will also fund the design and construction documents for the N. McDonough Streetscape project that was covered in another thread. We opted for this approach to get these projects “shovel ready” so that we are ready to jump on grant funds as they become available. Of course we already received a grant for the N. McDonough project and will be looking for similar construction funding for the two Commerce Drive intersection improvements. If you want to see concept drawings for how those intersections could be improved, go to the city’s website and look at the Community Transportation Plan.

  4. Bike lanes for Church Street? Has this already been approved? I was told that bike lanes on Church were not a big deal, “just a three foot line along the right lane”. Is this what is being proposed or is there a major change to a state highway coming in the future? A few years ago, a senator was ridiculed for a “bridge to nowhere”. The suggested changes to North McDonough and Church Street seem to fit this description. There might be a few citizens that may use bike lanes going downtown and back again but is this worth the expense? How grand does North McDonough Street need to be? There seems to be a rush to approve these ideas. I suggest that we slow down and look carefully at the plans.
    Does anyone remember the construction delays for the MARTA improvements? Did anyone see retention ponds in the Glenlake renovation plan? Once these plans to McDonough and Church are approved, anything can happen. I suggest that we slow down and carefully consider the changes proposed for these streets.

  5. Did I miss something, or are we getting these funds at the same time bus routes are being cut?

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