Clayton Poised To Approve MARTA Ballot Measure

Jun 19, 2014

Clayton County officials appear poised to approve a November ballot measure that could mean new MARTA bus and rail service in the county.

Commissioners and MARTA officials hashed out some preliminary details Thursday at a public meeting in Clayton.

Commissioners are still debating whether the ballot measure should include raising the sales tax a full penny or half penny. A full penny would allow for bus and rail service. A half penny would allow only bus service.

At the hearing, MARTA chief Keith Parker focused most of his remarks on the full penny scenario, which is estimated to generate $45-50 million annually.

“On the bus service, at least more than double what you had previously with C-Tran and then on the rail service multiple trains per day during the peak hours to start and then even more as the service gets more mature," said Parker.

Commission chair Jeff Turner supports a full penny, which he says would allow MARTA rail to expand south to Lovejoy within 5-7 years.

After the hearing, Turner said other commissioners are coming around, but there’s still work to do.

"I want the best service we can provide and in my opinion that comes with the full penny. If three of the commissioners come together and vote for the half penny there will be a lot of citizens upset," said Turner.

MARTA says it will submit more specific details on the construction timeline and costs in the coming days. Commissioners plan to meet again Monday, after which, according to Turner, a conditional contract with MARTA will begin to be drafted.

The commission is planning a final vote on the ballot measure July 1st. If approved, it would go before voters in November.