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Commentary: Momentum building for MARTA to Gwinnett County

Original story on WABE by Maria Saporta

marta airport station

For decades, Gwinnett County has had opportunities to join MARTA and build rail service, but voters have turned down every proposal so far.

For decades, Gwinnett County has had opportunities to join MARTA and build rail service, but voters have turned down every proposal so far.

Rev. Harriett Bradley missed her bus transfer to get from Norcross to Lawrenceville so she ended up taking Uber to get to the Sierra Club transit forum earlier this month. She told the crowd that because buses quit running in the evening, she would have to take Uber home.

Pro-transit residents from Gwinnett say their county is changing.  It has a growing Latino and Asian population. And the county is becoming more urban than suburban – with town centers like Norcross, Duluth and Lawrenceville.

Panelists observed those cities originally were created because they were served by rail lines – which are still in place, but now only carry freight.

State Rep. Pete Marin said Gwinnett needs rail transit to remain economically competitive.

Fortune 500 company NCR is moving its corporate headquarters from Gwinnett to Midtown so it can be close to MARTA and Georgia Tech while being attractive to a millennial workforce.

Meanwhile, the Gwinnett County government is pursuing a six-year, one-cent local sales tax for roads and other needs.

But critics suggest SPLOST would only afford enough money for a study and no other transportation improvements.

That leaves some leaders frustrated with a slow, step-by-step process.

Panelists agreed it will all come down to Gwinnett’s leadership – both at the political and community levels – pushing for rail transit sooner rather than later.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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