Emory/MARTA team up
For years Emory transportation officials have dreamed of the tremendous
benefits that would come with a MARTA rail station on or near campus. Drastic
reductions in traffic congestion, air pollution and the need to build additional
parking decks are chief among those benefits.
to support light rail study
The long and expensive effort to expand MARTA into the burgeoning northern
suburbs, as well as a steadily shrinking pool of federal dollars to support
transportation, are partially responsible for keeping the dream of rail
service to Emory an elusive one.
The tide, however, could be turning. Public hearings will begin later this
month for a federally funded study on creating a light rail line that would
link the Lindbergh MARTA station, the Emory campus, the Decatur area and
south DeKalb County.
In what constitutes an unprecedented and unique partnership with MARTA,
Emory has agreed to provide $82,000 (10 percent) of the $820,000 study.
The federal government will provide most of the funding.
President Bill Chace is enthusiastic about the study's potential and Emory's
participation. "MARTA has been very forthcoming and helpful to us in
an area where we need much help, namely, our ways of managing the very considerable
traffic in and around campus," Chace said. "The study that we
will undertake with MARTA will benefit the University as well as the entire
"What Emory has done is extraordinary," said Gloria Gaines, MARTA
vice president for planning. "We are just fascinated by Emory's recognition
of its need to participate in finding solutions for transportation problems
in the Clifton Corridor. The citizens of metro Atlanta have invested more
than $3 billion in their rail system, and that investment is providing returns
in the form of better air quality and increased economic development. Emory
has the foresight to recognize that, and I hope that what Emory has done
will set a precedent."
Gaines pointed out the importance that President Chace attached to rail
service at Emory in his 1995 inaugural address.
"The timing of the light rail feasibility study is excellent, as Emory
embarks on its campus master planning efforts," said Betty Willis,
Emory's director of community affairs. Willis emphasized that area residents
and businesses have been involved in those planning efforts and she sees
the feasibility study as an important opportunity for the Emory community
and its neighbors to have a voice in the development of the study and the
direction it takes.
The study, which is expected to take about a year to complete, will consider
the questions of whether the route for the light rail system would follow
existing railroad lines and exactly where an Emory station would be located.
Pursuing the light rail study is a continuation of Emory's alternative transportation
efforts, which were initiated nearly three years ago when Emory began offering
free MARTA passes and special benefits for carpooling to employees. Today,
about 800 employees on the main campus receive free monthly MARTA passes,
and about 250 employees are registered for Emory's carpooling incentives
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