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MARTA’s heavy rail upgrade was the stuff of dreams just a decade ago

By David Pendered

MARTA’s seven-year project to replace about 35 miles of heavy-rail lines is responsible for the inconveniences affecting passengers this week on the East-West, or Blue-Green, rail lines.

marta, inman park reynoldstown

MARTA is in the process of a seven-year project to restore rail line, and work is underway near the Inman Park/Reynoldstown Station. File/Credit: itsmarta.com

Almost unnoted in the renovation project is the fact that it is underway. This is a notable feat in light of the not-too-distant past.

Less than a decade ago, the voter rejection of a proposed 1 percent sales tax for transit and transportation was widely viewed as a potential death knell for the region’s only heavy rail transit system. A portion of sales tax revenues was earmarked to maintain MARTA’s trains, buses and infrastructure.

Today, the grumbling focuses on the challenge of using the stations at the Inman Park/Reynoldstown, and Edgewood/Candler Park. Work to manage aged track started Monday and is to be complete March 16. Construction will not be halted during the travel period before and after the Saturday game of the Atlanta United soccer game.

Customer service and experience was top-of-mind in a statement issued by MARTA’s general manager and president, Jeff Parker:

  • “The State of Good Repair work reflects our commitment to enhancing the safety, efficiency, and longevity of our system. We ask that our valued customers bear with us during this temporary inconvenience. These ongoing upgrades are designed to improve MARTA’s rail lines and are federally required for us to operate a safe and secure system.”

This type of maintenance is called “State of Good Repair,” in the language of a federal funding formula that helps pay for routine maintenance. This is the fourth phase of rail restoration in MARTA’s 40-years of operational history.

The classification covers everthing from track to signal systems, bridges to tunnels, vehicles to stations, according to a report by the Federal Transit Administration.

Federal funds are paying $6.2 million of the MARTA project. This amount represents about 4.6 percent of the total cost.

The remaining sum is coming from MARTA’s budget for local capital projects in the amount of $127.4 million, according to information MARTA compiled at the request of saportareport.com.

The scope of work represents a “gee whiz” list of engineering and construction projects that are to be addressed over the course of the restoration project. Highlights of the list include:

  • “Furnish and install new 115RE head-hardened rail replacing approximately 190,000 linear feet of running rail at 68 locations on curves throughout the MARTA System.
  • “Standard Direct Fixation Rail Fastener Replacement: Furnish and install approximately 50,000 standard direct fixation rail fasteners replacing approximately 23,000 Hixson H- 10 fasteners on the North and West Lines, and replacing approximately 27,000 L.B. Foster F-10 fasteners on the South, West, and North Lines
  • “Concrete Tie Replacement:
  1. “Mainline Tracks: Furnish and install approximately 10,000 concrete ties and rail fastenings on the West Line and Northeast Line.
  2. “Avondale Yard: Furnish and install approximately 9,000 concrete ties and rail fastenings in the Authority’s Avondale Yard.
  3. “South Yard: Furnish and install approximately 7,000 concrete ties and rail fastenings in the Authority’s South Yard.”


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Young Ché March 14, 2020 6:05 pm

    Sure this may be unheardd of, however, is the % of the tax-revenue not paid >= this expansions cost?
    What percentage of today’s population is the population that was the vanguard riders of MARTA?
    Is it so crazy to think that these oligarchs are feeding the proletariate mere crumbs from their 35 year-long meal?
    Is it daft to consider that the employees that helped engorge their money-hungry, soul-funnelling wallets are now facing reduced public amenities, higher disease rate, and higher infant mortalitity than most European nations!?
    Oh man, im glad us f^%&ing morons helped enrich these guys! What we get in return? A stagnant wage rate, and a huge deficit (municiple and national).Report


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