MARTA brass is intent on moving forward in coming weeks with a $230-million makeover of Five Points station meant to turn the 1970s hub into what the agency describes as a vibrant, centralized city center with smoother access to trains and buses. But the chorus of opposition to those plans from powerful places is growing louder, as the war of official letters concerning Five Points continues.

A.J. Robinson, longtime president of Central Atlanta Progress and Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, sided with Mayor Andre Dickens in a letter issued to media Tuesday. Robinson is calling for MARTA to slam the brakes on a Five Points overhaul that, in his estimation, is deeply flawed and too consequential to thousands of riders who rely on the hub daily.

Robinson suggests MARTA should instead focus on a Five Points aesthetic “refresh,” reinvigorated programming, and safer pedestrian crossings before the 2026 FIFA World Cup comes to Atlanta in two years. Following that, a revised redevelopment of Five Points should begin in a way that doesn’t restrict rider access—as other major cities including New York and Chicago have been able to pull off—and that capitalizes on $1 billion in private development underway near the station, Robinson opines.

Robinson also suggests MARTA should channel energy and dollars toward reviving other downtown stations prior to 2026, including Garnett, DOME/CNN Center/Philips/GWCC, and Vine City stations. He criticizes MARTA’s post-pandemic ridership bounce-back in relation to competing cities and says Five Points’ planned overhaul does little to fix what’s ailing the station today, including idle plaza spaces and on-street bus bays clogging areas around the station.

“I take this decision to ignore the mayor’s request as unresponsive to taxpayers,” reads Robinson’s letter. “MARTA’s refusal to hold off on closing Five Points for four years underscores MARTA’s lack of accountability to taxpayers and riders.”

A refined preview depicting how the opened-up transit hub could look and function. Courtesy of MARTA

In his own letter this week (a response to Dickens’ bombshell letter last week that asked MARTA to pause Five Points plans until an audit wraps), MARTA head Collie Greenwood denied claims the station could close to buses and street access until 2028, with only a brief opening gap to accommodate World Cup visitors. Greenwood acknowledged concerns that plaza-level closures will have on riders but said MARTA’s strategy puts safety first amid such heavy construction.

“Significant adjustments to the project at this point will undermine MARTA’s ability to apply for and receive future federal funding for this and other City of Atlanta capital projects,” Greenwood wrote to Dickens in the Monday response.

“After nine rounds of station design and discussion with you and your senior leadership team,” Greenwood continued, referring to Dickens, “including discussion about the need to restrict pedestrian access to Five Points at the plaza level during the deconstruction and demolition phases of the project, the project was approved by both the City of Atlanta and the MARTA Board of Directors. In the eleven months since [the city] approved the current design, MARTA has proceeded with all due haste to begin construction.”

On the opposition side, another letter distributed last week by a coalition of groups including mobility advocates Propel ATL calls for MARTA to keep Five Points access open, citing “an undue effect on the lives of... 17,000 pedestrians and bus riders.” As of this writing, a petition to keep Five Points accessible had 496 signatures.

MARTA announced in May that Five Points station would be closed to street-level access and that its bus connections would be rerouted to other downtown stations beginning in July. Those initial changes are expected to last for 18 months, or roughly until the end of 2025. The agency has shown no signs of wavering from those plans.

For $230 million, MARTA officials say the Five Points project will provided Atlantans and visitors with better transit connectivity, improved customer amenities, and increased safety, with perks including communal spaces, public art, and sections for urban agriculture. By MARTA’s count, the station sees roughly 12,000 daily entries and exits, and about 4,500 transfers between buses, or from buses to rail, each day. It’s the largest and busiest transit hub across the system.

Given all of the above, it seems an appropriate time to hear directly from the people of Atlanta. Please take a second to cast a vote in the below poll.

Should MARTA's remake of Five Points station proceed as the agency has planned?



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