State Tollway Authority helping to relocate Amtrak Station to Atlantic Station, GDOT board member says
By David Pendered
The state’s tollway authority is negotiating the planned relocation of Amtrak’s train station from Buckhead to Atlantic Station, the mini city on the western edge of Midtown.
The station’s proposed relocation was to be the first item discussed at a meeting convened today by Emory McClinton, a member of the state transportation board. The matter never came up.
“Gena [Evans] is negotiating it. That ‘s all I can say,” McClinton said after the meeting.
Evans is executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority. The agency is best known for collecting tolls along Ga. 400.
The agenda item at McClinton’s meeting stated:
I. Updates on:
a. Amtrak Relocation of Brookwood Rail Station
Gov. Nathan Deal chairs the SRTA board. State law provides SRTA with broad powers, including the authority to:
- Condemn land;
- Borrow money by issuing revenue bonds;
- Build, maintain and operate properties.
The SRTA board meets on an “as needed basis” with notices published on its web site and the Fulton County Daily Record, according to SRTA’s web site.
SRTA is comprised of five members who have great influence, by virtue of their position or political connections:
- The governor;
- The GDOT commissioner;
- The lieutenant governor’s appointee;
- The House speaker’s appointee;
- The director of the governor’s budget, which is named the Office of Planning and Budget.
Telephone calls and emails seeking more information from SRTA and Amtrak were not immediately returned.
In 2002, SRTA spent $10.4 million in tollway collections to buy 6.8 acres on the west side of Atlantic Station. At the time, the land was intended to be a landing pad for a proposed transit line from Cobb County.
Earlier this year, the site was earmarked for Amtrak’s new station. The state requested federal funding to help build a facility, but did not receive the money.
Georgia had applied for $22.5 million in federal funds to help build a facility with a pricetag of $38.9 million. The project was expected to take 18 months to build and open as early as July 2012, according to the state’s application titled: “Part II Statement of Work.”
Here are some interesting tidbits from the application:
- “Currently, the condition of the station is in need of additional major renovations and repairs.
- “The center island platform and canopy are in poor condition and need to be replaced to provide an ADA compliant platform
- “Foundation piers for the station are beginning to deteriorate and will not provide structural support to the station in the near future.
- “During a recent inspection of the facility, it became clear that the bridge deck under the parking area is in disrepair and required immediate closure to vehicular traffic.
- “This closure (March 15, 2011) eliminated all on-site parking including the ADA accessible spaces.
- “Ridership for the Atlanta station is expected to increase from 112,000 passengers annually in 2010 to over 170,000 passengers annually in 2030.
- “Amtrak in a partnership with Georgia Department of Transportation studied potential station locations beginning in 2009 …
- “[I]t was concluded that a station located adjacent to Atlantic Station is the most viable option and is recommended to progress.”
The proposed site is adjacent to the IKEA building and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.
Travelers could reach the proposed station by private vehicle, MARTA or the Atlantic Station shuttle. Any of the methods would be a measurable improvement over the access to the existing Amtrak station, located at the corner of Peachtree and Deering roads.
Private vehicles would exit into Atlantic Station from the Downtown Connector or from Northside Drive. MARTA has multiple routes in the area. The Atlantic Station shuttle connects with MARTA’s Arts Center Station.
The existing station is accessible by MARTA bus and vehicles that arrive from Peachtree or Deering roads.