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Release date: Jan. 30, 2002
Contact: Nancy Seideman, Director: 404-727-0640 or nseidem@emory.edu

ARC Funds Study For Potential Light Rail Route Along South DeKalb-Atlanta-Emory Corridor

The Atlanta Regional Commission has included funding in its draft 2003-05 Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), clearing a major hurdle in efforts to provide a light rail route along the South DeKalb-Atlanta-Emory University corridor. The draft TIP allocates $2.5 million for the study, to be split between fiscal years 2004-05.

Emory University President William M. Chace says that overwhelming and broad-based support from legislative, business, education and community leaders helped convince transportation planners of the need for the route.

"Thanks to U.S. Reps. Cynthia McKinney and John Lewis, U.S. Senators Max Cleland and Zell Miller, and a strong and determined DeKalb and City of Atlanta coalition, we are one major step closer to obtaining a much-needed public transportation line for our region," says Chace.

The proposed arc-shaped light rail line would loop from the Stonecrest Mall in South DeKalb, through Atlanta’s popular destinations, businesses and educational institutions, on to Lindbergh Station, then to Emory and the Clifton Corridor area. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) also recommended that the South DeKalb-Atlanta-Emory study be combined with the intown Belt Line Study, which serves both Fulton and DeKalb counties, given the overlap between the two.

Betty Willis, head of Emory’s government and community affairs office, and chair of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s transportation committee, says that, "While we are very pleased and appreciative of the funding, we are attempting to have the study expedited to begin in fiscal year 2003, primarily because Congress will reauthorize the federal surface transportation bill that year," she says. "Having the study underway hopefully will make it easier for our federal representatives to authorize and obtain funding for providing transit in this corridor. Though we remain very optimistic, our proposed project will still be in competition with others for federal funding."

Erick Gaither, who oversees Emory’s alternative transportation program, is especially pleased at ARC’s decision, given his dual role as president of the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association (CCTMA). "Emory and other major employers in our area, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society, employ more than 22,000 people, and we estimate that more than 40,000 people travel through our community on a daily basis," says Gaither. "Having a light rail route not only will enable us to take cars off the road, but it will provide easy access to health care services and employment opportunities for Atlanta area residents."
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