A few weeks ago I saw a post on Twitter from a local news reporter who wrote that MARTA was planning to recommend four heavy rail stations in Alpharetta. That was the first I had heard of such a plan so I immediately contacted Mayor Belle Isle and the rest of Alpharetta’s City Council to see if any of them were aware of the recommendation. Not a single one of us had even heard of MARTA’s intentions much less been consulted on the matter.
So on August 12, 2013 I attended a meeting of MARTA’s Planning and External Relations Committee in Atlanta. At that meeting MARTA’s staff did indeed recommend extending a heavy rail line more than 11 miles along GA 400 through Sandy Springs, Roswell and Alpharetta. This plan called for putting four train stations in Alpharetta including one each at Mansell Road, Northpoint Mall, Old Milton Parkway and one on Windward Parkway which would serve as the end of line regional station.
This is not the first time a MARTA train station has been proposed for Alpharetta nor will it be the last. Traffic is consistently the number one complaint of Alpharetta residents and since we all pay a 1% sales tax to support MARTA it would be nice if we could find some way to get a better return on that money. So I welcome an open and honest discussion of how MARTA can better serve Alpharetta.
Unfortunately MARTA’s Connect 400 initiative has been woefully inadequate in seeking input from actual residents of Alpharetta. The recommendation was based solely on 30 interviews with unidentified “stakeholders” and an online survey consisting of 136 responses to an email that went out to unidentified business interests, local officials and interest groups last December.
Clearly MARTA’s staff made no effort to include Alpharetta’s mayor or city council and in fact I have yet to determine if even one Alpharetta resident was sampled in the research. And as you might expect from such a small, statistically insignificant sample the recommendation is the least practical and most unlikely to be implemented even under the best of circumstances. In an effort to raise awareness of this process I am submitting for your review the presentation which was given at MARTA’s August 12th meeting. Please click this link to review the full 12 page Powerpoint presentation: GA 400 Briefing Presentation
Transportation is a crucial issue for us all and this process could affect the future of Alpharetta forever so I ask you to please take a moment to review the information and let me know your thoughts on this matter. MARTA is also planning to host an informational meeting about this recommendation on September 26th from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Alpharetta City Hall. It is imperative that the people most affected by this process speak up before a final determination is made. Please make the time to join us at that meeting.