Emory Report

 December 8, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 15

MARTA officials show preliminary proposals for transit corridor
at P.E. Center open house

As promised, MARTA officials are back this fall with several proposed routes for improved transit service in the South DeKalb/Clifton Road/Lindbergh corridor. The preliminary concepts were unveiled at a series of meetings the last two weeks, including one at the PE Center Nov. 24. A final meeting is scheduled Dec. 9 at Decatur's Westchester Elementary on Scott Boulevard.

At the Emory meeting, MARTA staff informally exhibited maps of the proposed routes on easels, explained concepts and answered questions. The exhibit also included a blank map on which visitors could draw suggested routes themselves.

Nothing is set in stone, and many of the proposed routes offer no specific mode of transportation, although light rail is featured in three of them. MARTA planners presented 11 suggestions, one of which is to do nothing and let commuters use existing roads and transit. A second offered low-cost changes to existing roads and transit such as improving traffic flow through intersections and making bus service more attractive to increase ridership.

Transit service through Emory's campus, mostly via the CSX rail line, was featured prominently in seven of the nine suggested routes. The other routes bypassed Emory altogether, focusing on routes linking South DeKalb to downtown Atlanta and Candler Park station. For any route using the CSX right-of-way, MARTA would have to pay for the property and for the right to access it, said Tom Huston, MARTA special project manager.

There's a minimum of 24 trains in the South DeKalb/ Clifton Road/Lindbergh corridor, Huston said, with 20 of them running on the tracks that bisect the Emory campus. The other four run through Druid Hills, where residents are not happy about the prospect of increased train traffic. One reason for that, Huston said, is that trains must blow their whistles when approaching intersections and tunnels. And although any train MARTA ran through the neighborhood would be as quiet as their existing heavy rail, MARTA trains would also be required to blow their horns there. Running trains every 10 to 15 minutes, from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., would make for many whistles.

At one public meeting, Erick Gaither, executive director of Community Services, sought to deflect growing criticism of Emory by Druid Hills residents. "We're trying to be a good neighbor, to cut down on traffic through the neighborhood and the congestion," he told The Atlanta Journal/Constitution. "Even if we don't continue to grow, we're looking for solutions to the traffic."

After the current series of meetings, MARTA officials plan to look at the suggestions that stem from them and whittle the potential routes down to one or two final alignments to be presented at hearings scheduled for March.

Even that doesn't guarantee the transit service sorely desired by the Emory community will come to fruition. MARTA officials are also studying possible routes west to Fulton Industrial Boulevard, south to Hapeville and north to Alpharetta. Most likely, every item on this wish list will not make the cut.

-Stacey Jones

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