• Atlanta MARTA Clifton Corridor Light Rail Project

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Jeff Smith
Some news on this project estimated to cost $700m:

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/morn ... e_atl_rdup
The route called the “Clifton Road Corridor” is earmarked to receive $700 million in sales tax funding from the TSPLOST. The new line would stretch 4.3 miles from MARTA’s Lindbergh Station to a proposed station at the junction of two CSX rail lines, near the corner of North Decatur and Clairmont roads.
This would make the "North" line, the north end of the Airport line (also called "red" and "gold") split into three branches, all at LIndbergh.

MARTA Site: http://itsmarta.com/Clifton-Corr.aspx
The Clifton Corridor Alternatives Analysis involves investigating the need for high-capacity transit connections between the Lindbergh Center/Armour Yard area in north-central Atlanta to Clifton Road employment centers and the City of Decatur in west-central DeKalb County. The Clifton Corridor includes some of the largest activity centers in metro Atlanta without convenient access to the interstate system or MARTA rail connections. These conditions have created high levels of traffic congestion on a severely limited network of roadways. The corridor is home to a number of well established residential communities and several major employers such as Emory University, Emory Healthcare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Veterans Administration Medical Center & Regional Offices, and the DeKalb Medical Center.
Private partner web-site: http://cctma.com/
  by MattW
MARTA has finally selected its Locally Preferred Alternatives for both the I-20 East corridor and the Clifton
Planning staff will present the recommended Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) to the Planning and External Relations Committee on March 26th at 10am and to the Board of Directors on April 9th at 1:30pm. Public comment will be heard prior to the presentations at each meeting. Each meeting will be held in the MARTA Board Room at the headquarters building

The Clifton corridor is a transit corridor that branches off south of the Lindbergh station and runs through the Emory campus to the Avondale transit station. There were several proposals MARTA was considering including Heavy Rail, Light Rail, and Bus Rapid transit. All of the options would use a mix of dedicated right of way and in-street running along the length of the corridor. The only major difference between them is that the Heavy Rail option would have terminated at North Decatur and required a cross-platform transfer to continue to Avondale from Lindbergh. The option that has been selected is Light Rail transit all the way from Avondale to Lindbergh. After some consideration, I personally think this was the better option as Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit would have to be used anyways between Avondale and North Decatur Road. I would have liked the option to run trains directly from the airport and Atlanta to Emory which the heavy rail option would have potentially allowed, but the fewer the transfers, the better. The total cost for this is expected to be $700,000,000 which will be entirely funded by the T-SPLOST if it passes.

Now, the I-20 East corridor is the one that's more important to me. I live just off its planned eastern terminus, Stonecrest mall so I'd definitely make the 10 minute drive to get to the train to reach Atlanta (assuming they build this thing while I still live out here :P). The 6 alternatives being considered boiled down to heavy rail direct to Atlanta, heavy rail merging with the existing line east of Atlanta, light rail on either alignment, BRT direct to Atlanta, and reavy rail off the end of the Blue Line terminus, Indian Creek. The option I was hoping for (and expressed during the public comment period to MARTA) was the Heavy Rail direct to Atlanta which would give a 36 minute trip time to Five Points, and 42 minutes to Arts Center (Amtrak, Cobb County Transit) and a one-seat ride as far as Lindbergh. However, the option that won out was the final option to extend the line from Indian Creek down I-285, then out along I-20 with BRT from Wesley Chapel (I/20/I-285 interchange) direct into Atlanta with a travel time of 40 and 48 minutes respectively. I can't figure out however if these times are for traveling completely by train, or taking the train/bus option, or if the numbers are the same for both.

My feelings about this are mixed. While I'm glad that transit will finally reach along I-20, and will arrive quicker than the other rail options, I'm unsure about the longer travel times and less direct route as well as the existing line. In the documents I've read online, it appears that that plan was or is to run some type of express service from Indian Creek to Atlanta stopping at only a handful of the existing stations. The entire line to H.E. Holmes is double track and the Candler Park (King Memorial most of the day) to Ashby segment already hosts a second (Green) line. Unless MARTA plans to reduce frequencies on the Blue and Green lines in order to slot-in new express service, I'm not sure if the current infrastructure can support more trains running at the same 15 minute headways (7.5 minute Candler-Ashby) (dropping to 5 minute?) without adding at least a third track which I doubt there's much room to do. The cost for this project is expected to cost $1.78 Billion of which $225,000,000 appears to be set aside in the upcoming T-SPLOST referendum if it passes.
  by Jeff Smith
MARTA pins hopes on new sales tax for light rail
MARTA board members are to decide Monday whether to move forward with plans for its first major expansion since it ran rail to North Springs in 2000. They only have to find an estimated $1.6 billion to lay nearly nine miles of track.

How would the agency, which is currently relying on reserve funds to avoid more service cutbacks, create what is called the Clifton Corridor?

First, MARTA officials stress this is only a plan to run light rail from the Lindbergh Center station south east to the Avondale rail station. It still has years of environmental and engineering studies -- and possible cost changes -- before construction could start, if funding is located.

Second, the project would get a $700 million jump-start if voters approve the regional one-percent sales tax for transportation on July 31, which would fund the first phase of the line, from the Lindbergh station to the job center around Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in DeKalb County. That is how much is earmarked for Clifton Corridor light rail -- and it will give the agency more clout to seek federal grants.


COST: The project at $133 million a mile rivals heavy rail in cost because the engineering requires two elevated sections and three underground sections from Lindbergh to Emory University, which is the first leg. If MARTA negotiates with CSX railroad to use its right-of-way, it could be significantly cheaper -- depending on how much the railway would charge for access. But MARTA officials are skeptical they can negotiate a workable arrangement with the railroad company. Also neighborhood groups largely preferred the light rail line -- which could have as many as eight trains an hour -- tunnel under the CSX rail and private property, officials said. The rail line will also operate for about a mile in the median of Clifton Road. If the second phase from Emory to the Avondale station is developed, the project proposes to use the medians of Scott Boulevard, North Decatur Road, DeKalb Industrial Way and North Arcadia Avenue.
USE: MARTA is projecting 17,500 daily boarding by 2030 and an expected 5,300 new riders who could board at eight stations, which could be increased to 11 stations. Average travel times to Emory/CDC would be 13 minutes from Lindbergh station or 43 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
RISK: Cost overruns -- always a risk with rail projects. Cost estimates for a light rail project in Denver went from $4.7 billion to $7.4 billion this year, according to a spokeswoman for the Denver rail expansion project. For the Clifton Corridor, cost estimates have already risen $600 million from a previous estimate of $998 million. In 1999, MARTA went back to Congress for an extra $26 million -- a 7-percent overrun -- to finish the line to North Springs.
NEXT STEPS: Environmental impact statement and preliminary engineering, which are necessary to apply for federal grants, then final design, then construction.
FINISH LINE: If funding is available, the first-phase at least could be done within a decade; if the board does not approve the plan for expansion, back to the drawing board.
  by MattW
At risk of too much self-promotion, I've used MARTA's maps to compile a Google Map of the Clifton and I-20 East Corridors. Since the Clifton Corridor has more details online than I-20 East, I'll place this here for now.
NOTE: This is not an official map, it uses information publicly available online from MARTA, using best guesses where information is not available. The author is in no way affiliated with MARTA, or any agency or other organization that may have produced or contributed to the plans this map was generated from.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=21 ... 7,0.264187
I've made the Clifton route in red, the planned stations with red markers, and the potential stations with pink markers. The areas outlined in orange are on viaducts or bridges, and the areas outlined in blue are underground.
I made this in case anyone wants to look around at where the route runs and didn't want to go to the PDF maps then try and guess at what the route of the line is :P
  by gt7348b
Actually, if you examine the technical Locally Preffered Alternative report when it comes out, the I-20 service to Indian Creek was modeled as an express extension of the Green Line with a stops in Decatur and Avondale (IIRC). This would allow the project to potentially include the expansion of the Bankhead Station platforms to accommodate longer trains (right now they only accommodate 2 car trains while the rest of the system accommodates 8-car trains).

The travel times are by train. Also, while the direct connection did have the highest ridership and shortest travel times, it was the most expensive and there seemed to be too many issues with construction and neighborhood impacts, particularly between Glenwood Avenue and Hill Street (Picture pre-WWII Historic house less than 10' from I-20 East Soundwall). An alternative examined did look at whether a structure could be placed in the median of I-20. That option would require a structure to cross not only above the freeway, but also above all the cross streets like Moreland, Boulevard and Bill Kennedy Way. Additionally, the foundational piers would likely have created substandard shoulders on the inside lanes of I-20 require a variance from GDOT and FHWA (which is unlikely considering the outside shoulders are already substandard). However, the adopting resolution commits MARTA to conducting a technical report on those construction issues, so look for more technical goodness late this year, early next year.

Oh and the Clifton Corridor total cost is over $1 billion from Lindbergh Center to Avondale (I'm sorry I don't have the current estimate right in front of me right now). The $700 million in the July Referendum will construct the portion from Lindbergh Center Station to Emory.

Hope this helps.
  by MattW
gt7348b wrote:Actually, if you examine the technical Locally Preffered Alternative report when it comes out, the I-20 service to Indian Creek was modeled as an express extension of the Green Line with a stops in Decatur and Avondale (IIRC). This would allow the project to potentially include the expansion of the Bankhead Station platforms to accommodate longer trains (right now they only accommodate 2 car trains while the rest of the system accommodates 8-car trains).
Hope this helps.
That's something I hadn't heard yet about extending the Green line, and frankly, I'm irritated. I'd like to think that the I-20 extension deserves at least 6-car trains, but maybe 8 car trains would be better as MARTA will be almost doubling the length of the existing Blue/Green lines. This of course is constrained by the Bankhead station, which based on Google imagery, only has enough existing room for a 4-car platform, and only enough room on the tail track to turn a 4-car train. It appears MARTA could potentially acquire enough right of way to have 8-car trains around Bankhead, but knowing MARTA, that's unlikely.

It certainly helps. I'm always interested to know what's going on with Atlanta's transit even if it raises my blood pressure, and makes me a bit irritated, I try my best not to shoot the messenger! :D
  by Jeff Smith
Nothing really new here, but it is being covered: North Atlanta Business Post
Another major expansion plan is along the Clifton corridor. This would link the Lindbergh station with the Avondale station in DeKalb County. The light rail line will provide service to one of the region’s most congested areas – and biggest job centers – serving Emory University, Emory Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control, Children’s Healthcare and Veteran’s Administration Hospital.
  by Jeff Smith
From the ashes: WABE.org
Proposed Annexations Could Connect Emory To Rail

The proposed annexations of Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta's Egleston Hospital and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into Atlanta wouldn’t yield the city a tax bonanza. But according to this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, Atlanta would be enriched substantially by the economic development that would accompany a light-rail line along the Clifton Corridor, which MARTA officials have long wanted to build but can’t while the area remains outside the city.
The Clifton Corridor line was one of the projects MARTA promoted last year when the General Assembly was debating legislation to let Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta ask voters to raise the 1-cent MARTA sales tax by a half penny.

However, elected leaders from North Fulton objected to the bill. When they dug in their heels, supporters were forced to limit the transit component of the measure to projects inside the city limits of Atlanta. As a result, the sales-tax referendum Atlanta voters approved overwhelmingly last November will pay only for transit improvements inside the city.
  by Jeff Smith
MARTA allocating sales tax revenue to project: MyAJC.com
MARTA transit plan includes 21 miles of light rail
The list of projects recommended by the city and MARTA - obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - includes the Clifton Corridor light rail line, plus a system of other rail lines snaking through downtown and along Campbellton Road in southwest Atlanta.
Since then, employees have evaluated dozens of potential projects that would cost a combined $11.5 billion. The proposed final list includes:

The four-mile Clifton Corridor light rail line from MARTA’s Lindbergh station to the Emory University/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention area recently annexed by Atlanta.
For the Beltline and Streetcar: http://railroad.net/forums/viewtopic.php?f=137&t=94489" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;