MARTA this week unveiled its most detailed plans to date for a quarter-billion-dollar remake of the agency’s largest and busiest transit station—a project that’s recently drawn scrutiny from government and business leaders who feel it prioritizes vehicle transportation over a truly vibrant downtown.

Despite the pushback, MARTA plans to move forward with its preferred design concepts in hopes—once again—of completing a more welcoming, efficient Five Points station before global soccer fans arrive in Atlanta for World Cup matches in 2026.

As part of MARTA’s newly revised shortlist of priority expansion projects, the Five Points overhaul is expected to cost $259 million and help set the stage for transit-oriented development downtown, including a future residential component at Underground Atlanta.

Keli Davis, MARTA director of facilities program management, presented the agency’s preferred direction for Five Points on Thursday to MARTA’s Board of Directors.

In the works since 2019, the redesign calls for peeling off the station’s concrete canopy in favor of an arched, translucent covering that allows in light and fresh air. A concourse level would feature new retail and public art. While a plaza level would work in spaces for socializing, communal activities, greenspace, more public art, and even agriculture, per MARTA.  

Courtesy of MARTA

MARTA officials say a crucial factor in the design is accommodating customers who use 10 bus routes that connect with the station on a daily basis—customers who oftentimes don’t have access to vehicles. That will require large bus bays at street level.

Therein lies the rub.

As the AJC reports, Atlanta City Council members Jason Dozier and Amir Farokhi, alongside Central Atlanta Progress president A.J. Robinson, have publicly come out against MARTA’s redesign plan on the basis, in their view, it would detract from a town square feel and restrict pedestrian and cycling access in favor of bus infrastructure. Robinson likened plans to ““a pedestrian fortress around the station on Alabama Street and Forsyth Street,” the newspaper reports.

Courtesy of MARTA

MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood told the board this week construction at Five Points could nonetheless begin as early as August—in time for a remade centralized transit hub to greet World Cup guests downtown.

That’s a switch from a timeline detailed last year, when MARTA officials said deconstruction at Five Points would begin in 2024, and the project would wrap in 2028—roughly three years later than previously expected.

In summer 2021, MARTA selected architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to lead designs of the canopy deconstruction and removal, while Skanska Building USA was picked to serve as contractor, overseeing the project. MARTA officials say both firms have the right experience to handle extremely complex urban projects of such scale.

While the design concepts are more detailed that anything before, MARTA officials stressed this week the project will still need “extensive public input” before it moves forward into full designs.

Courtesy of MARTA

Courtesy of MARTA


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