A revised transportation system is coming to a six-mile stretch of the Campbellton Road corridor in Southwest Atlanta, and MARTA is officially pushing for buses over light rail.

That’s the takeaway from a Thursday meeting involving one facet of plans for MARTA 2040, a multi-billion-dollar system expansion that’s expected to be the largest in agency history.  

In question is a six-mile section of Campbellton Road, stretching between the Barge Road park-and-ride parking lot and MARTA’s Oakland City train station.

MARTA says it collected nearly 1,000 surveys last summer asking nearby residents, business owners, and frequent MARTA riders which they’d prefer to see built in the corridor: a fixed light-rail system, or bus rapid transit with (almost exclusively) dedicated lanes?

A slide shown during MARTA's Campbellton Road presentation this week. MARTA 2040

The results of those surveys show a constituency divided, with 45 percent preferring BRT and 43 percent leaning toward light rail, as the AJC reports.

During its presentation, MARTA showed results of an analysis that Campbellton Road BRT would cost $130 million to build (versus $340 million for light rail) and $4.8 million to operate annually (versus $12.5 million).

Another factor is that no existing driveways would have to be closed with BRT—versus 12 driveways with fixed rail.

A trip along the full route on a BRT system would take 18 minutes, or two minutes slower than rail, with 92 percent of the route in dedicated center lanes. That’s 35 percent faster than the route's current bus line, the transit agency found.

MARTA 2040

One biggie is that BRT could be implemented three years sooner than light rail—opening sometime in 2028—along Campbellton Road, serving an estimated 6,000 riders daily. Plans call for nine transit stops, five miles of bike lanes, and seven miles of sidewalks alongside BRT lanes, too.

MARTA predicts the BRT lanes could make the route safer, with more than 230 driveways being converted to “right-in, right-out” only, minimizing the ability of cars to cut across all lanes.

MARTA says a center-running BRT system is recommended for the Campbellton Road corridor "based on the results of [an] alternatives analysis and feedback received from the community."MARTA 2040

The AJC reports that not everyone applauded BRT plans this week, with one activist relaying that longtime Southwest Atlanta residents have waited decades for rail service—a more permanent system that’s more likely to attract businesses and other economic development, they feel. Conversely, a neighborhood leader said the cheaper, efficient, more flexible system should be welcomed.

The Campbellton Road line would be funded by the half-penny sales tax voters approved for MARTA in 2016, which is expected to generate $2.7 billion. Some 29 miles of light rail projects across the city are still in the works as part of that program.

The MARTA board could approve the Campbellton Road BRT plans in March. Doing so would add the project to a BRT wish list that includes lines in Clayton County, up Ga. Highway 400, and eventually, along the top-end Perimeter of Interstate 285.

Head to the gallery above for a closer look at Campbellton Road plans. 

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