MARTA’s plan to remake Atlanta’s largest and busiest transit hub will close access to the downtown station for thousands of riders per day once construction begins, officials confirm to Urbanize Atlanta.
But MARTA officials say a contingency plan is being formulated to make the closure of Five Points station for more than a year as non-disruptive as possible.
As outlined deep in MARTA’s draft environmental assessment opened for public comment earlier this month, the planned $206-million redevelopment of Five Points station will close the centralized hub to all bus and pedestrian traffic for roughly 18 months.
Those documents specify that rail service and transfers between MARTA lines will remain active on platform levels below ground, while the plaza and concourse levels are temporarily closed, barring pedestrian entry and bus transfers. The station serves 55,000 riders per day on average, with 22 percent of them using “walk-up access,” 7 percent using the station for rail-bus transfers, and another 2 percent using it to switch buses, per the environmental paperwork.
That works out to more than 17,000 daily customers on average who will be impacted. [CLARIFICATION: 2:26 p.m., Dec. 15: MARTA sends the following numbers regarding Five Points patronage: "There are approximately 4,500 daily bus-to-bus or bus-to-rail transfers and 12,000 daily entries and exits at Five Points."]
MARTA spokesperson Stephany Fisher said the Atlanta City Council was briefed on the impending Five Points closure during its most recent transportation committee meeting; meanwhile, MARTA’s project, operations, and public engagement teams are working to finalize a plan that inconveniences riders the least while keeping them safe during major construction.
Exactly when construction—and closures—will start won’t be known until the environmental assessment is complete sometime next year, according to Fisher. Once that study is finished, MARTA plans to start a campaign of informing riders.
“The stakeholders are aware—it’s just that we haven’t taken it out to the customer because we need to have the plan in place,” said Fisher. “We need to know when it’s going to start. We need to know exactly where [riders] can catch their bus. We need to have everything ready to go. We’ll do an extensive public education.”
All bus routes will likely be relocated to MARTA’s Georgia State station, located about five blocks, or half a mile, away. Fisher said it’s possible that a shuttle system could be implemented, but those logistics haven’t been finalized.
“I think it’s about 4,000 people that are the most impacted, those folks that walk up to Five Points, that’s kind of their home station,” Fisher noted. “The good news is that the majority of people use Five Points for the rail system and transferring, so that won’t be impacted. It’s just right now a matter of getting those buses relocated, making sure there’s adequate space and infrastructure over at Georgia State for those bus routes.”
Four years in the making, MARTA’s planned overhaul calls for removing and replacing Five Points station’s concrete canopy, reconnecting Broad Street to pedestrian traffic, adding customer amenities, and incorporating spaces for public art, agriculture, and communal gatherings. It's being funded through the More MARTA half-penny sales tax program approved by voters seven years ago, with $25 million also coming from a Federal RAISE Grant and another $13.8 million from the State of Georgia.
Five Points acts as the connecting point for all four rail lines—the north/south (Red and Gold) and east/west Lines (Green and Blue)—and nine bus routes. The renovation is expected to help set the stage for transit-oriented development downtown, including a future residential component at Underground Atlanta.
MARTA doesn’t expect the remade Five Points station to be finished in time for Atlanta’s World Cup 2026 matches—the earlier target for completion—but the agency “will ensure the rail station is ready to host soccer fans from around the world,” according to a recent project update.
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