(The Center Square) — As the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority advances its More MARTA Atlanta Program, the agency’s position is bolstered by what an executive called “unprecedented” state funding.
MARTA officials said the agency is advancing a program estimated to cost $2.7 billion over 40 years. It is partially funded by a half-penny sales tax Atlanta voters passed in 2016.
The list of projects ranges from bus rapid transit to station overhauls to an extension of the Atlanta Streetcar. The project list is broken down into tiers, with the second-tier projects slated for when “funding from the tax is available,” according to MARTA’s website.
“The number of projects has always exceeded the funds that … the sales tax was to provide, and the program was always going to need federal funds or some other funds in order to execute,” MARTA Chief Capital Officer Carrie Rocha said during a Wednesday virtual hearing. “…So we currently to date have $40 million that’s been committed federally and nearly $20 million committed from the state, and this is unprecedented in terms of our state commitment, and we are very grateful for those contributions to move the More MARTA Atlanta program forward.”
Controversy has ensnarled the More MARTA Atlanta Program, particularly after a former executive alleged the agency is facing a $1 billion shortfall in funding.
Last month, the Atlanta City Council approved a measure calling for an audit of the More MARTA program, which the city’s Department of Finance would pay for and administer. MARTA initially blasted the council’s decision.
“In 2016, the More MARTA Atlanta Program originally consisted of 70 projects estimated to cost approximately $12 billion,” MARTA said in a previous statement. “After two years of extensive meetings with the City of Atlanta, ATL, stakeholders, and public input and analysis, the MARTA Board adopted 17 projects at a cost of $2.7 billion which was further memorialized in [an intergovernmental agreement] that was approved by the MARTA Board, City Council and executed by [former] Mayor [Keisha Lance] Bottoms in November of 2019.”
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