The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) announced it has requested that the Clayton Southlake Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project be granted entry into the Project Development phase of the FTA's Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program as a Small Starts Project.
Clayton Southlake BRT is the first of several projects MARTA will advance as part of its MARTA 2040 program with requested CIG funding.
“This is an important milestone for MARTA and the first of many to come as we embark on the largest expansion in our history,” said Jeffrey Parker, MARTA GM/CEO.
The estimated $300 million BRT project will provide high-capacity transit service connecting the College Park MARTA Station to destinations in Clayton County including Airport Gateway, Shops of Riverdale, Southern Regional Medical Center campus, Mount Zion commercial corridor, and Southlake Mall.
Features of the BRT system will be similar to those found in rail investments including dedicated transit lanes, more frequent service, BRT-focused stations, and transit-oriented development opportunities. The project would also include 13 new BRT-branded stations with offboard fare collection, the purchase of 10 BRT-branded electric buses and associated electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the installation of transit signal priority equipment at key intersections.
“Clayton County residents will benefit from the Southlake BRT because it will make a trip from College Park to Southlake Mall 19 minutes faster, making it easier to access jobs, healthcare, and entertainment throughout the region,” said Jeff Turner, Clayton County chairman. “I’m excited that this is MARTA’s first application for federal transit funds in decades.”
The recent federal Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which reauthorized surface transportation programs for five years, included a change championed by Senator Raphael Warnock to increase the eligibility for Small Starts to $400 million and increase the maximum amount of federal funding from $100 million to $150 million. These changes will ensure that the Southlake BRT project is eligible and potentially leverage more federal funding to support it.
MARTA received support from the Clayton County Board of Commissioners in November to advance the project, and the MARTA Board of Directors voted to move on the project earlier this month. If entry into project development is granted, next steps include CIG budget request to Congress in August, completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) next December, and construction underway in summer 2024 with an operational date in 2026.